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The Difference between a Role Model and a Mentor and How to Integrate the Two within a Business.

Mentors and role models empower people to live a certain way and influence the important decisions they make in their lives. Although the two terms “role models” and “mentors” are used interchangeably, there are distinct differences and similarities. The express definition of a mentor is someone, usually known to the other person, with more experience and knowledge, who guides and teaches that person face to face. A role model, on the other hand, is usually someone that is not known to the person but whom they look up to and who influences the way they live and act. 

“Role models inspire you by showing you what is possible with their own example. Mentors help you manifest your dreams and goals. They can help make the impossible possible.” – Mariela Dabbah.

8 Differences Between being a Role Model and being a Mentor.

In summary, a role model is someone you aspire to be like, whereas a mentor teaches you how to become the best version of yourself. Whether someone is a mentor or a role model, they can become both as these two terms can be integrated in general but also in business. When we can pinpoint the key differences, we can establish how we can integrate the two within a business.  

Role ModelsMentors
Usually, a public figure or well-known person.Usually, a professional person with wisdom that is more experienced than you.
Can be anyone – you don’t need to know them personally and they don’t need to know you. Is someone you know personally and who knows you.
They unknowingly influence people’s decision making.Their goal is to influence the decision-making process on purpose.
They live, act, react and continue their lives setting a certain kind of example for whoever is looking.They guide, teach, and share information knowingly to transform a single person or a small group of individuals.
Behaviour and success are looked up to.Knowledge and experiences are shared.
Their influence can be good or bad for someone.Their entire purpose is to better someone else
You choose the role model you want to look up to.A mentor is usually chosen for you in a professional space.
They don’t need to be someone trustworthy or reliable, just someone you admire and look up to.Trust and support are what the relationship is built on. They are respected more in a professional environment. 

Denzel Washington believes that “…a role model is a mentor – someone you see on a daily basis, and you learn from them.” This is ideally what we want in our businesses. 

How do Mentors become Role Models?  

“Your mentors in life are important, so choose them wisely” advises Robert T. Kiyosaki.

Anyone can be a role model, but not everyone can be a mentor. Mentorship is powerful. Mentoring can make someone a better person, and it can develop that person’s skills and abilities. So, start off with becoming the best mentor by establishing a good mentor, mentee relationship. By being a good mentor, you can and will become your mentee’s role model. Follow these steps:

  1. Build a good foundation within your relationship with your mentee.
  2. Foster respect and build trust.
  3. Be supportive and encouraging. Be both your mentee’s cheerleader and support system. 
  4. Set a good example in everything you do and how you handle situations.
  5. Have a constant positive attitude. Motivate and inspire. 
  6. Have morals and be ethical.
  7. Be tolerant and show patience.
  8. Be inclusive and make the mentee feel safe to be who they are around you.
  9. Communicate effectively. Don’t be reluctant to share your know-how and wisdom but empower your mentee.
  10. Be yourself. Mentees relate with mentors who are real. 
  11. Don’t be afraid to fail. Mentees are observing you and how you deal with failure. They will look up to you. 

“When a mentor becomes a role model, they become the compass that navigate the next generation of leaders,” says Elmarie Pretorius. This is what we need in order to nurture and develop the leadership of the next generation so that our business can grow, economic evolution can regain momentum, and everyone can prosper.