The three terms: leader, mentor, and coach, are often used interchangeably and this creates confusion. These are each very different.
At https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leader a leader is defined, among other things, as a person who has commanding authority or influence.
At https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mentor a mentor is defined as a trusted counselor or guide.
At https://coachfederation.org/code-of-ethics coaching is defined as partnering with Clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential and an ICF Professional is defined as individuals who represent themselves as an ICF Member or ICF Credential-holder, in roles including but not limited to Coach, Coach Supervisor, Mentor Coach, Coach Trainer, and Student of Coaching.
What are the similarities? Each sees themselves in a position that makes a difference. Each offers support albeit in different ways. Each has or is intentionally gaining experience in their role.
What are the differences? A leader sets the vision. A mentor supports a vision. A coach supports creating a vision. A leader directs. A mentor advises. A coach asks questions so that an individual finds their own direction. A leader is developed. A mentor evolves. A coach is trained in specific competencies.
What is the value of each?
- A leader is at the head, sets the vision, and gives direction.
- A mentor shares their wisdom and insight, plus helps with connections.
- A coach is an equal partner with a process for discovering possibilities, expanding thinking, and strategizing change.
A thought: in your own personal development you are well served to have great leaders followed by great mentors then ultimately great coaches to maximize your potential.