Mentoring vs Coaching: Which is Best for You?

Article by Vera Mirzoyan / Updated at .30 Aug 2023
6 min read
Mentoring vs Coaching: Which is Best for You?


The terms mentoring and coaching are very often used interchangeably. Because of such an approach, the responsibilities of these specialists are mixed and misunderstood in the business context. In spite of all the various right and wrong opinions, there is a great difference between mentoring vs coaching.

In this article, I am going to highlight this difference and clearly introduce the point in detail. After all, it will become easier for you to identify your responsibilities and make a decision.

Mentoring vs Coaching: Definition and Focus

What is mentoring or who is a coach? What are their responsibilities?

Mentoring Definition: Mentoring is a kind of informal association between people, focused on developing a two-way mutually beneficial relationship for a long-term career movement.

Focus: A mentor is somebody who shares knowledge, experience, and skills with those who are less experienced in the field. Thanks to their knowledge experience mentors are more likely to guide the mentees rather than teach them specific topics or theoretical knowledge.

What is Coaching and Who is a Coach


Coaching Definition: According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), coaching is defined as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership.”

I define coaching as a development-focused relationship with a coach who has been specially and professionally trained and who provides guidance to people on their goals, helping them reach their full potential.

Focus: The main focus of a good coach is on identifying goals, classifying, and prioritizing them then choosing the right and the best possible path to achieve these goals. In this way, business coaches help business organizations to become more accountable, goal-driven, and competitive in the market. 

Skills Required 

Mentoring: The mentors offer support to people related to career growth or interpersonal skill development. Let me emphasize a single skill - multifunctionality. A mentor needs to be developed, smart, and flexible to provide support in different aspects and help the mentee to concentrate on the most productive choice among the possible options.

Coaching: A business coach puts emphasis on chosen skills and focuses on developing goals dividing them into concrete tasks that are completed within a specified period of time.

In this way, coaches should have the knowledge background, empathy, guidance, and sincerity for the specific business or personal success.

The Role 

Mentoring: Mentors provide advice and support to mentees while considering opportunities for career growth, gaining confidence, or improving interpersonal skills. This guidance is based on the mentor’s personal experiences and learnings, which makes them more trustworthy and authoritative in the eyes of the mentees.

The role of the mentor is flexible, depending on the changing requirements and needs of the mentees over time. As I have already mentioned above, mentoring relationships are usually informal.

It is said that good mentors are willing to share the best of their skills and knowledge with the mentees. They are more caring as they have previously faced the same challenges and feel more empathetic towards the mentees’ needs.

What does a Business Mentor Do

During mentoring programs, mentors share a positive and motivational attitude, to inspire, encourage, and build trust among the mentees. These qualities make it easier for the latest to speak about their professional goals as well as share concerns.

Read: Mentoring How-tos; The Role and Qualities

Coaching: Business coaches help and guide to clarify the growth vision. Many businesses deal with goal identification and prioritization as a big challenge. Coaches follow a more formal, structured approach to resolve issues and manage specific aspects of the job.

One of the most essential roles of business coaches is to cover various aspects of running a successful business. These may include sales targets, marketing strategies, communication skills, team building, leadership, and even more.

When choosing the path to become a business coach, a good specialist should have all successfully passed through all the stages and have a rich experience in the target niche. Moreover, he should have the number of leadership characteristics that allow him to manage a team effectively.

Coaches largely assess businesses to recognize their key features, strengths as well as growth challenges. Based on the evaluation, they help to design a plan or form a strategy, set targets, and define the steps required to achieve the desired results.

What does a Business Coach Do

A smart business coach acts as a critic, challenges the status quo, questions business decisions, and prompts organizations to take a closer look at their approach. This way, they bring in a fresh point of view to the business strategy and goals, having a general opinion about the possible outcomes.

But rather than simply questioning how things are run at a business, a coach tries to highlight the hidden points and guide the business on adopting an appropriate growth strategy.

The Key Differences Between Mentoring and Coaching

Let’s discuss some specific points that make a differentiation between a mentor and a coach:

  • Mentoring is possible on a long-term basis depending on mutual trust and respect. Coaching, on the other hand, is for a short period of time.
  • Mentoring is more focused on creating an informal connection between the two sides, while coaching follows a more structured and formal approach.
  • The business mentor has previous personal experience of the mentee’s aspect of work. A business coach, however, does not need to have their own experience of the kind of work the coachee is engaged in.
Mentoring vs Coaching The Differences Between These Two
  • The primary priority of a business mentor is to support the development of skills that are not just relevant for the mentees in their present job, but also for the future. On the other hand for a business coach, the biggest priority is to improve performance that has a positive influence on the current job.

Similarities of Mentoring and Coaching 

Mentoring and coaching have much in common. Both of them

  • concentrate on 1:1 relationship
  • consider the personal development
  • are meant to enable learning and growth
  • focus on unlocking potential

Check out the below-attached infographic that better visualizes the similarities and differences between mentoring and coaching.

mentoring vs coaching

Examples of Mentoring

Many people started their careers in mentoring.

A bright example is Sally, who was an IT administrator until she decided to provide IT support and became a mentor. Being highly aware of the sphere is a great advantage for Sally to be professional as a mentor and offer the best possible support.

Examples of Coaching

Let me share another example of coaching.

John was a business analyst who was to bridge the gap in understanding between the organization management. Then he decided to start a coaching career and help businesses identify their goals as well as find the most effective ways to achieve them.  

Read our Ultimate Guide: How To Start Online Coaching in 2022


So, do not be late, go digital, reach a wider market, and help more mentees or coachees to get their right path to success. Good luck!

If you are interested in starting online mentoring or coaching, you may schedule a free demo and get familiar with the features Uteach offers. It may be helpful and inspirational for you.

FREE Chance


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