Leadership vs. Mentoring: Similarities & Differences

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  • 0:03 What Are Leaders?
  • 0:46 What Are Mentors?
  • 1:43 Leaders As Mentors
  • 4:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

After completing this lesson, you'll learn the characteristics that define mentors versus leaders. You'll also learn how you, as a leader, can be both leader and mentor.

What Are Leaders?

A leader is someone who leads a group of people or a business. A leader is different from a manager. Leaders don't just supervise, they direct their people in the direction they want them to go in. Leaders are good at making decisions that benefit the group as a whole and perform at a level above simply solving problems.

Yes, they do solve problems, but they take it a step further. Instead of solving problems among employees at the managerial level, they solve business problems that help the business grow to the next level. Leaders also know how to delegate their responsibilities and work with other responsible people so they can focus on growing the business. Leaders are also those who others willingly choose to follow.

What Are Mentors?

A mentor is someone who is experienced and willingly trains and advises others. Mentors are usually leaders in their fields. Mentors are experienced at solving high level problems and have reached a point where they can now help others to grow and become leaders and eventually mentors, too. In businesses, mentors train and counsel new employees and others who want to advance in the company. What often happens with mentors is that they also become the confidants of those who they mentor. Mentors also base their decisions and actions on their values and passions instead of strictly on what is more profitable. Because of this, they have learned how to balance a home life with work life.

You can think of mentors as the stage above leaders. You grow from being a manager to a leader to a mentor. Once you've reached the mentor stage, it doesn't mean that you give up your leadership. On the contrary, you can be both a leader and a mentor.

Leaders as Mentors

In fact, it's those leaders who are also mentors that are capable of growing their group or business to new levels. These mentor leaders know how to inspire their team and train them to become even better. When problems arise, mentor leaders are able to help their team to solve problems in such a way so as to not only solve the current problem, but also to find a way to help the team and business grow.

For example, let's say a problem arises between two employees about the way a certain procedure is handled within the company. One employee feels the procedure needs to be followed letter by letter while the other employee feels the procedure is old and new ways of doing things are better. As the mentor leader, instead of being dogmatic and saying this is the procedure and that everybody has to follow it exactly word for word, you'll talk with both employees first so you can fully understand the underlying issues. Is it really the procedure they are fighting about or could it be something of a more personal nature, such as the two employees not liking each other's personalities?

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