What is Coaching and Mentoring?

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Coaching and Mentoring are tools to help people move forward on their journeys to success. While both are useful, invaluable tools, they each work in different ways. In order to remove the confusion, here is a quick guide to highlight the typical differences between Coaching, Mentoring, Counselling, and Consulting.
By Stephen McDonnell, David Kennedy, Mindi Caselden, and Jeff Caselden

coaching, mentoring
(Management Mentors, 2013) (Passmore, 2007) (Hope and wellness centre, 2013)


What is coaching?

Coaching is a confidential professional relationship entered into to assist a client/team to bridge the gap between where they are now to where they would like to be, far more effectively than if they worked at it alone.

Coaching is not only focussed on improving performance based on the here and now, but also a process that enables learning and development to occur. Coaching is not teaching; it is helping the client/team to learn, by unlocking their potential and helping them to find new perspectives. 

Coaching is performed in a supportive and motivating environment on the basis that the coach generally has no direct experience of their client’s formal occupational role unless the coaching is specific and skills-focused. A coach achieves this by:

  • Using powerful questioning techniques, helping to raise the awareness of the client so they can get clear on what they truly desire and who they are at their core.
  • Assisting them to create practical, step-by-step action plans to reach their targets / goals.
  • Holding them accountable to commitments and assessing the reasons for falling short of those commitments.
  • Providing a safe space for a client to test new approaches, a sounding board for new ideas.
  • Providing on-going support through any changes or obstacles a client may encounter.
  • Providing a client with tools, techniques and strategies to create lasting change and success.


What is mentoring…?

Mentoring is typically a learning and development relationship between a mentor (usually someone with relevant experience and knowledge) and a mentee (someone who wants to learn, develop and progress over time). The goal of mentoring is to help the mentee develop their capabilities as a leader. Mentoring does not usually focus on immediate performance issues or business challenges; typically the relationship focuses on growing complex skills such as communication and leadership.

… And what is mentoring not…?

While it is typical that a mentor would have knowledge and experience of a mentee’s line of business, mentoring is not about handing down prescribed solutions to business problems that the mentor has encountered before. Every mentee’s journey is their own, and what worked for the mentor may not apply in the case of the mentee. Mentoring is also very different to coaching, which is usually independent of the type of business the person works in, and tends to be more self-reflective, while focusing on a particular near-term skills gap or challenge, like people management skills or sales.

Interested in Mentoring and Coaching?

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Vithoria Escobar

Masters educated Public Relations and Marketing professional, with seven years international experience planning and managing strategic communications. Results-driven, with substantial knowledge across multiple industries and markets, including Digital, Technology, Corporate and Public Affairs. Available for both permanent and temporary roles in Digital Marketing, Social Media, Content Creation & Public Relations.

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