The Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring

Office employees coach mentor

We all have goals we want to achieve, obstacles we want to overcome, and times when we feel stuck. Working with a coach can transform your life and put you on the path to greater personal and professional fulfillment.

But what about mentoring? How can being a mentor also advance your personal and professional goals? There is a difference between coaching and mentoring, which I’ll break down for you. As a leader, you’ll learn why both roles are important.


The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Executive coaching seeks to raise personal awareness and encourage action in order to assist others in learning and growing. The goal is to motivate and encourage participants to reach their full potential — and then some. It is not uncommon for coaching to unlock previously untapped potential for creativity, productivity, and leadership.

Coaching is primarily action-oriented, with the goal of developing more intelligent, aware, and ambitious employees. It’s a practice that is tailored to an individual’s skillset and circumstances, which means every session with each individual client is unique.

Coaches assist clients in seeing themselves more clearly and compassionately, with coaches guiding clients on how to balance their strengths and weaknesses. Coaches can also help them identify and generate a development plan to achieve their goals. 

Benefits of Coaching

Coaching has been shown to increase confidence, boost work performance, and improve communication skills. It allows individuals to define their career goals in a realistic manner. The coach can then help set these goals and the client can actively work towards them. This partnership increases the likelihood that the objectives will be met. It’s common for goals to revolve around two aspects of a person’s career: skill set development and professional behavior.

Having a coach provides the individual with a safe space to discuss sensitive issues. The coach is usually an impartial and unbiased participant, and their ability to remain neutral while providing guidance allows the coachee to gain perspective.


The goal of mentoring is to connect someone who has extensive knowledge and experience with someone who hasn’t yet gained the same knowledge or experience. A mentor is someone who assists in developing skills, making better decisions, and gaining new perspectives. As a mentee, a mentor will use their experience to advise their clients on their current and future life and career choices. Tapping into the knowledge and experience of someone further along in their career than they are can help accelerate career and professional development.

Rather than having their clients learn through trial and error, a mentor is a person who provides direction and is a role model to imitate. Mentees can benefit from a mentor’s experience because having someone who knows more than they do share advice, offer guidance, and be a sounding board for their thoughts often also sees things objectively. Having a mentor, whether in a career or personal life, is critical to our continued growth and development.

Benefits of Mentoring

Being a mentor allows you to give back while also providing valuable development and learning opportunities. The best way to learn is to teach others. Additionally, mentors improve their skills as leaders and communicators as they guide and assist rising talent.

Being a role model as a mentor can help you become a better leader. It can instill confidence in your leadership abilities and even lead to promotions and becoming a more valued team member. The responsibility of guiding someone’s career and goals dictates the senior employee teaching, motivating, and providing honest feedback in difficult conversations, which helps with communicating at all levels.

The Importance of Coaching and Mentoring

Both coaching and mentorship are important because it allows leaders and team members to grow and become more competent in their roles, as well as prepare for future opportunities for advancement.

Providing coaching and mentoring opportunities is key for organizations that are interested in attracting, retaining and engaging top tier talent. It is critical to provide these opportunities, so I’d love to talk about how we can make this happen in your business.

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