During a 1-on-1 with my coach today, I noticed that she used the terms “Coach”, “Mentor”, “Advisor” and “Sponsor” very distinctly and deliberately.

Advisor / Mentor / Coach / Sponsor

  • are all different!
  • Advisor, Mentor: is about sharing your skills/experiences to help them
  • Coach: is about enhancing the coachee’s experiences, skills and needs
  • Sponsor: is about connecting, advocating, lending your privilege

This idea reminded me of Glenn Burnside’s post on the WEDGE method of teaching:

  • W: Why (help them understand why this matters)
  • E: Explain (prescribe what to do) - an advisor’s mindset
  • D: Demonstrate (show how to do it) - a mentor’s mindset
  • G: Guide (help them through the tough initial times) - a coach’s mindset
  • E: Enable (give opportunities to practice and master it themselves) - a sponsor’s mindset

The key point of these mental models is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to mentoring and coaching. Recognize what is being asked of you as a mentor, what is needed in the current situation, and adopt the appropriate role.