Coaching vs Mentoring: which would serve you?

As business owners and decision makers we often find ourselves in need of an advisor. These advisors often come in the form of a coach or mentor.

Business coaches are far more action-oriented; they help you get things done. Their role is usually to teach a new skill or make changes that will improve a particular desired outcome.

Many coaches are affiliated to accreditation bodies with excellent tools and processes at their disposal. An action-oriented business coach will help you develop certain skills and abilities to deal with a particular struggle or challenge you’re facing within your business. Generally once you have those specific skills, you can move forward by yourself. Business coaches are also useful for people who are fantastic at their specific skill or trade but are struggling with the business admin side of running a business. Coaching programs are usually measured in direct benefits such as more sales, less complaints, and lower costs

 Business mentors are often senior in experience, have led successful business lives and carved out careers building, running and owning businesses. They impart knowledge, gently guide and challenge the entrepreneur’s ideas based on years of experience.

Mentors are best if you are looking for someone to turn to in a crisis, simply bounce ideas off, provide guidance or even inspire you. In most cases, mentoring programs are measured in confidence, less mistakes, better decisions and improved leadership ability.

The difference between coaching and mentoring isn’t clear-cut. A mentor may draw on a number of approaches: teaching, coaching, and counselling. Indeed it can be argued that these areas often occupy the same developmental space. There are three significant, clear cut differences between mentoring and coaching:

  • Task vs relationship: 
    • Coaching is task-oriented. The focus is on concrete issues, such as managing more effectively, speaking more articulately, and learning how to think strategically. This requires a content expert (coach) who is capable of teaching the coachee how to develop these skills.
    • Mentoring is relationship-oriented. It seeks to provide a safe environment where the mentoree shares whatever issues affect his or her professional and personal success. Although specific learning goals or competencies may be used as a basis for creating the relationship, its focus goes beyond these areas to include things, such as work/life balance, self-confidence, self-perception, and how the personal influences the professional. 
  • Short-term vs long-term: 
    • Coaching is short-term. A coach can successfully be involved with a coachee for a short period of time, maybe even just a few sessions. The coaching lasts for as long as is needed, depending on the purpose of the coaching relationship.
    • Mentoring is always long-term. Mentoring, to be successful, requires time in which both partners can learn about one another and build a climate of trust that creates an environment in which the mentoree can feel secure in sharing the real issues that impact his or her success.
  • Performance vs development: 
    • Coaching is performance driven. The purpose of coaching is to improve the individual’s performance. This involves either enhancing current skills or acquiring new skills. Once the coachee successfully acquires the skills, the coach is no longer needed.
    • Mentoring is development driven. Its purpose is to develop the individual not only for the current job, but also for the future. 

For the best of both worlds, find someone that can coach and mentor.

Looking for a coach or mentor is not a show of weakness. Many CEO’s, leaders and decision makers rely on coaches and mentors to grow their businesses.

There are a wealth of good and bad business mentors and business coaches. The best thing to do is contact a few or conduct research and try to establish their value to your business.


Published On: July 25th, 2018 / Categories: Coaching, Executive Coaching, Mentor, Mentoring / Tags: , , /

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