Teacher, Coach, Mentor, Adviser, Pioneer, Visionary, Leader: Do not confuse
In a modern noisy world, often roles are interchanged, used out of context to suit the context and swing the advantage to the favor of the role rather than the individuals who need the support of the roles. So I thought of putting a small post clarifying the terminologies. This is a general set of role definition to help you not getting mislead with tweaked roles.
A Teacher: They are often subject experts whose primary goal is to give you knowledge on a subject. How you learn and perceive that the subject is not their concerns. Teachers are great to get you started with fundamentals in anything. Example: Your school/college teachers.
A Coach: Who are professionally trained and skilled to teach you to advance skills in your domain, observe and identify your flaws, strategies to better them and improve the existing skills. Example: A sports coach or a business coach.
An Adviser: Domain experts as well as super achievers who can tell you what to do if you are facing problems with any issues in your subject or who can give you a framework of what to do while targeting a new avenue in the area. You can brief an adviser about the current state of proceedings and he can offer you valuable suggestions on how to improve things. They might identify the problem areas or areas of improvement for you.
A Consultant: Domain experts who understand the problems in a domain and have a good idea about the ways to find a solution. An Advisory role is continuing and over a long period of time whereas consultants work on a case to case basis. Rather than hiring talent to solve a problem, often consulting is a better option who offers a more professional approach to the solution. Example: Physicians.
A Manager Tells you what to do, do very few of your things, micromanages resources you need in your field, are good at people and poor with skills. Example: Do you really need one?
A Guide: He is the one who knows the field in and out, who can arrange resources for you, needs a share of your success. Often a coach comes teacher becomes your guide. You can think of guide as a combination of consultant, adviser, and teacher. Example: Your Ph.D. guide.
A Mentor: Mentors are often one of the most successful and knowledgeable individuals in the domain and overall a successful person in life. Mentors give you the wisdom needed for life, business or domain to reach to the top. They may not necessarily tell you about the finer aspects of your field. They are iconic figures and super achievers. Example: Tendulkar in Cricket, likes of Narayan Murthy and Ratan Tata in business. Interaction here will be rare, but every moment spent with them will improve you as a professional and as a person multifold.
A Pioneer: Pioneer is one who has perfected the art of success on a domain in a way that the success is a near monopoly. They are the best in their field and are not replaceable. Pioneers are the masters of their fields like Mozart, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates. Pioneers inspire people to chose their path in the quest of finding success.
Visionary: A visionary is a pioneer in a field with depth knowledge of many other domains and a general broader sense of what is going on in the world and can happen. Visionaries inspire new talent to explore unknown territories and try to innovate and invent and take the risk. Steve Jobs to me was one of the prime examples of a great visionary.
A Leader: They are often the icons who may not micromanage any aspect of your profession but you look at them as an icon and symbol of success and you try to replicate them. They create common frameworks and guidelines that can be followed by large sets of individuals who are following them.
A leader may be a teacher of a selected few, coach of yet a smaller subset of people, guide and mentor of yet a small subset, a pioneer in his own right and a visionary. You just follow them, you don’t hire them. They take the pain for you, they take all the risks and blame if things do not work out. They are most loved by their “tribe” and hated outside it.
Interaction with the leader is minimum as the leader has to ensure that a large number of aspiring individual in the field who are following him become successful. Unlike others, a leader is identified by the success story of a large set of individual as a collective plus individual success. They are teacher, coach, and mentors, who are highly successful individuals in their field and are very rare in number. Steve Jobs and Elon Musks of the business world, Bose, Mandela, Gandhi of public life, Kennedy and Modis in politics, are some of the prime examples. Every area and domain starting from financials to sports have their leaders who are the iconic figures in that domain.
A “tribe” selects its leader and follow him/her. They are not hired.
Next time you see a “Leadership training” in a company, you know what is the correct term to use for it.