Mentoring vs Coaching

We are proud to be partnering with the National Mentoring Awards, taking place on 1st March 2019. This is the first awards ceremony in the UK to give public recognition for mentoring excellence to honour and recognise individuals and organisations who mentor and create (real) inspirational mentoring role models across every sector of business, education, sport and society. There are over 20 National Mentoring Award categories including business - start-ups, SME’s & corporate, diversity, disability, sports, charities, armed forces, women, education, media, music, health and ‘National Mentor of the Year’ which will be awarded at a high-profile awards ceremony in London.

Coaching and Mentoring

It’s understandable that you may think mentoring and coaching are similar or even the same thing. The International Coach Federation defines coaching as ‘partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their professional potential’.

But hey, wait a minute, isn’t that what mentoring is? It’s fair to say that the grey area when discussing and comparing mentoring and coaching is vast!

A simple and broad definition of a Mentor is ‘an experienced and trusted advisor’. Mentoring involves helping individuals to develop their career, skills and expertise, often drawing upon the mentor’s own experiences in the process. Mentoring can be very different from managing or coaching, and it is important to know what the key skills and behaviours of a good mentor are before getting started, so we’ve given you some helpful insights to understand the differences…


Leadership coaching

Performance v’s Development

Coaching is typically performance driven, the purpose being to improve the individual’s skills and behaviour so that they can perform better at their job, their sport or specific objective they want to achieve. This involves either enhancing their current skills and acquiring new ones. Once the individual has achieved the objective, the coach is no longer required.

Mentoring is development driven, the purpose being to develop long term skills and behaviours that could apply to various aspects of the individual’s life. Mentoring, therefore, requires time, for both partners to build the relationship and a climate of trust, meaning that the mentee can feel secure in sharing the development needs that will impact on their success. A mentor relationship can exist for many years as a trusted advisor, as long as the need for development is required by the individual.

Task v’s Relationship

Coaching is task orientated, focusing on specific issues that often require a skilled and qualified coach that is experienced in the areas that the individual wants to improve. Coaches are therefore often chosen or hired for their expertise in that given area.

Mentoring is relationship orientated, providing a safe environment where the individual shares whatever issues affect his or her professional and personal success. Although goals and objectives can be used to measure success, the focus of mentoring goes beyond the specific objectives to include things like work/life balance, self-confidence, self-perception and how the personal influences the professional.

Questions, Questions, Questions…

As a coach, asking thought-provoking, open and challenging questions is at the top of their toolkit, helping the individual make important decisions and recognise behavioural changes that they need to make to develop or enhance their skill. Good coaches know that asking great questions and listening are key to successful outcomes for the coach.

In the mentor relationship, the individual is likely to ask more questions about the mentor's experiences, trying to understand why they took a certain action or to learn the outcome of a decision they made. As a mentor, these questions can sometimes be difficult or challenging to answer. However, if the question is relevant to the mentoring conversation, it is important to be open with the mentee and provide them with an honest answer.


Mentoring vs Coaching


If you would like to know more about ourcoaching and mentoring services contact one of our team of specialists at 


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