Coaching vs. Mentoring: They Are Not as Alike as You May Think

When you think of coaching vs mentoring many things may come to mind. You may have had personal experience with one or the other.

Maybe you’ve dealt with a career coach at the company you work for. Perhaps you have had success with a mentor during college.

There are many reasons why people or an organization would want to hire either coaches or mentors. The reason is often to provide expertise in an area.

It is also to support, give resources, and to build relationships. Deciding between coaching vs. mentoring depends on your needs and goals.

Which are you interested in getting involved with?

The Differences Between Coaching and Mentoring


Coaching VS Mentoring | Wayahead

Mentoring and coaching have a lot of similar qualities. They also have clear differences.

Mentoring is designed to match a mentor with a mentee. The focus of a mentor is broad and can last as long as the mentee would like. The purpose is to create a positive relationship between the two. This will help the mentee achieve his or her goals.

There is a difference in the definition of coaching.

“Mentoring creates meaningful connections that can positively impact the lives of both mentor and mentee. Those who receive mentorship are more likely to see improved academic, social, and economic prospects. Those who mentor are able to further build important leadership, management and creative skills, while giving back to their community,” (YouthMentor).

Coaching involves a coaching cycle that is based on long-term goals of the person being coached. This is only done for a short amount of time. The coachee’s goal(s) drives the type of specific coaching given.

“The Institute of Coaching cites that over 70% of individuals who receive coaching benefited from improved work performance, relationships and more effective communication skills. They also reported that a huge 86% of companies feel that they recouped the investment they made into coaching plus more on top,” (Forbes).

Review the chart below to learn more about the difference between mentoring and coaching.

Mentoring Coaching
Who benefits from being mentored and coached:

Youth or college-aged students

Youth with challenging life circumstances

Youth in need of an older role-model

Employees transitioning into a new industry

Adults wanting to network with others in their field

Those wanting personal and professional growth

Adults seeking employee development and career growth

Those with identified deficits that are looking to change

Adults wanting to increase performance and skills in an area in their life

Individuals wanting more confidence and self-esteem

Adults wanting to improve their relationships

Those who have specific goals with a specific timeline

Who mentors and coaches others:

Anyone who volunteers and is accepted into a program

Adults seeking to mentor youth

Youth-to-youth mentors within education

Colleague-to-colleague mentors within a business

A coach who has expertise in a specific area

Business coaches who are tasked with working with certain employees

Certified coaches, i.e. an instructional or relationship coach

Those brought into organizations to work with employee challenges

Leaders and executives who have a lot of experience in a field

Goals/focus of mentoring and coaching:

To be a role-model for the mentee

To build trust and rapport with the mentee

The focus is on building a long-term relationship

To assist with skill advancement and help provide opportunities the mentee may not have had otherwise

Typically based on SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive)

The focus is more on time-sensitive priorities

Take supervisor or employees’ vision and help create solutions

Focus on empowering people through the coaching relationship

Mentoring and coaching time commitment:

Long-term commitment

Depends on mentor and mentee expectations

Individuals work out a schedule

Short-term commitment

Depends on the purpose and mission

Depends on how the coaching cycle goes (if change and success are happening)

Common settings for mentoring and coaching:

Out in the community

At a workplace with a business mentor

On a job training site

At a school or university

In the home

At a workplace with a business coach or certified coach within that field

In a college degree or certification program

In a session at a coach’s personal office

Outcomes/results of being mentored and coached:

An increase in self-esteem and confidence

Gain support and encouragement

Career development and an increase in skills

The formation of a positive relationship

New connections made within a community

Improvement in professional skills

Meet priority SMART goals

Learn about collaboration

Take a deep dive into work issues and learn techniques to to solve them

There are definitely slight similarities between coaching and mentoring. However, the setting, role, and approach of the coach and mentor have more than one difference. You can see this from the chart.

Next, read about a few scenarios in which a mentor and a coach might be involved in.

Mentoring and Coaching Scenario Examples

Mentoring and Coaching Scenario Examples | Wayahead

Natasha just started graduate school. There are different mentoring programs at her university. She gets the email address of her advisor and reaches out.

The advisor matches her up with Kate, the mentor, who is in her last year in the same degree program. Natasha wants help to transition from undergrad into the graduate department. There are questions she has about research papers.

She also wants to know about the thesis at the end of the program and getting resources. Natasha can use Kate throughout the mentoring process. She will gain the skills she needs to complete her program and be successful.

Tim, a teacher, has been recommended to go through an education coach certification program. When he finishes, he will be his school’s Language Arts Education Coach. His duties will be to meet with teachers on a person-to-person and group basis to discuss needs.

Throughout the coaching cycle, he will work with the teachers to improve skills. In the end, the goal will be to improve student academic achievement. During his program, he will learn to steer talks surrounding teacher SMART goals.

He will use questioning skills to guide teachers to problem-solve themselves. At the end of the coaching cycle, teachers should have made progress on their goal.

Tim is empowering the teachers through the coaching relationship. This scenario is also similar to what a business coach does.

The difference between coaching vs mentoring is important. Someone who is looking to hire a coach is going to have a different type of goal and focus.

Someone seeking a mentor may simply just want a role-model in their life. Regardless of which a person chooses, they will benefit greatly from the relationship.

To learn more about mentoring and what may be right for you, check out the Wayahead website or download the app.

Angel Santiago
Servant Leader | MBA | Veteran | Founder @

June 25, 2020



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