Neil Diamond fans, I am singing “The Story of My Life” along side you.
With these lyrics in mind … who holds YOU accountable to the best interests of the business? Short answer: it’s more than just you. A mentor, a coach (business or life), a consultant, an advisor each play a role that allows you to make more informed decisions, which makes a better decision possible. People who fill each of these roles contribute to business success; when you choose them carefully, add them to your trusted circle, and consider the information – that in the end – you choose to use or not.
Here’s a description of each:
A person sought out for coveted knowledge. Mentors model behavior and actions. Sometimes the ideal individual might be a person you don’t know. With mentors you do know, together you both define the mentor/mentee relationship (once set up) around dependability and level of involvement. The result is focused on your needs, and, more importantly, is real. Christine L. Bowen hosted the following insightful conversation around mentorship that illustrates the concept beautifully!
Grounded in a business relationship, a coach creates a space that enables you explore ideas by answering carefully crafted questions. A truly effective coach will help you identify both what you already know and what you need to know, while also clearing a path for understanding the best next action.
Consultants make room for uncovering themes and trends, and offer solutions grounded in a business relationship. The hallmark of working with a consultant involves problem-solving, building strategies and accomplishing specific tasks. This individual brings experience that can, if efficaciously applied, can result in your success. Say, for example, a clear-cut problem exists; someone outside the organization can join a team to complete that one particular project.
This TEDx Talk is about expectation gaps. When working on either side of a consulting relationship: understanding what experience is described (the problem to be solved), the experience of working together (how the problem is solved), and the experience after work is complete (follow up, resolving outstanding issues, etc).
An advisor will internalize the company vision, market position and all other relevant information and then pinpoint both problems and areas for improvement. The way an advisor assesses a business allows for early identification of potential issues.
Whether using a mentor, coach, consultant, advisor – #AllPathsLeadBack to YOU!
Each of these areas brings a laser focus to the function they serve best. Typically, one person or firm is unable to successfully perform more than one of these roles. Each role is complimentary to each other serves a different purpose.
You may be thinking: “Well, Jess, I don’t need (or have time for) four extra relationships to manage.”
You are right – you don’t.
Pick one. Get started. At the onset there is no wrong choice. Accept where you are at in the beginning.
Relationships grow and change, as do businesses. It’s natural (and growth-oriented) to be open to switching between – or adding people to fill – each of these roles as needed, for finite periods of time. And similar to the way market conditions and competition vary over months (or years), so might the needs of you, your team and your company.
Know yourself. Know you have a need. Depending on where you, are defining that need may create an opening for utilizing external support. Own the fact that you don’t know everything, and give yourself permission to seek insights from others. Not only is it lonely trying to accomplish everything alone, it’s also slower and harder. Why not learn from the experience and expertise of others?
While a business requires many people – you are solely responsible for your decisions. Make each one count by utilizing your team and trusted outside advice and information to make good decisions.
P.S: Don’t forget that you may also fulfill these very roles in different areas of your life. As you look for a mentor, realize that you yourself are mentoring.