Mentoring vs. Coaching: Similarities and Differences


Being an efficient leader means utilizing different management approaches. Transformative leadership embraces two interchangeable components of effective management mode: mentoring and coaching. The purpose of this assessment paper is to define the basic structure of mentoring and coaching models. Information data was collected via a proper review of the existing academic literature on this topic. The finding indicates that although mentoring and coaching have a lot of leadership elements in common, there are clear differences between these options. This paper contributes to the understanding of these significant leadership management notions with a focus on their similarities and differences. This paper clarifies the process of building personal interconnection between a mentor/a coach and their followers; the development and efficiency of mentoring/coaching structure; interaction building structure; management process durations.

Differences and Similarities between Coaching and Mentoring

Mentoring and coaching are two phenomena that are intrinsically linked in leadership management. These two components of the transformative leadership structure predispose the positive micro working environment among a leader and their team members. Transformative leaders are mentors and coaches, stimulating company participants’ motivation, creativity, and typical enthusiasm. A successful leader is the embodiment of both roles representing mentoring and coaching patterns in their company adjustment. The primary goal of an efficient leader is to change the vision of their followers, becoming an example, providing support, and stimulating the desire to change for the better. Mentoring and coaching policies a leader administers might seem similar at first sight. Still, the elaborate evaluation of these essential leaders’ insignias makes it possible to highlight significant differences and similarities between these notions. The purpose of this research paper is to detect the nature of these terms, look at them from different angles, and find out the relevance of complete comprehension of primary differences and similarities.

Mentoring vs. Coaching – Definitions

While defining these options, most people might be confused as they tend to consider coaching and mentoring to be the same notions. In some ways, they are correct, as both a coach and a mentor operate on a particular scheme of behavioral patterns. Evidently, a transformative leader must have a personal goal to maintain the working process; they must choose a final destination point for this personal goal achievement. A mentor and a coach have to adjust a supportive base on their team workers’ behalf. Assessing mentors’ and coaches’ roles, mentors can be characterized as role models, while coaches are supposed to be competent experts imparting their skills and knowledge.


Mentoring is a form of apprenticeship where a more experienced human being shares their first-hand experience with a less qualified individual. Their relationships are based on mutual trust as older person passes down their skills of how the assignment was done and how to function and behave in commercial reality. Clutterbuck (2014) claims that mentors are driven by the desires and needs to learn and understand the deep-seated emotional triggers of people in order to make them listen, persuade, facilitate and guard. All these undertakings of mentoring policy are vital for achieving the overall goal of an organization team members participated. In practice, mentors allocate a spectrum of supporting and learning behavioral modes that might fluctuate from a strict and challenging critic to a supportive friend, a role model. In other words, a mentor is a human being who gives wise advice in the form of counseling to head their so-called aids to fulfill their ambitions and uncover their working potential. The primary mentor’s objective is to stimulate a less experienced subordinate’s enhancement and refinement in terms of their working aptitudes.

The mentoring management structure has three overlapping directions and layers. Grant (2016) identifies these layers as: “collegial friendship, informal mentoring and co-mentoring “(p.88). As to collegial friendship, it helps form the foundation of professional partnership. The informal mentoring structure focuses on the interaction between a mentor and their proteges in terms of their professional enhancement. When it comes to the co-mentoring layer, it stimulates the positive dynamics in interpersonal relationships.


The principal option of the coaching model is to support people’s learning processes in achieving their professional or personal goals or results. A coach aims to help their team members to learn and boost their cognitive abilities rather than teach them. Downey (2014) points out every single coach passes through the stages of offering advice, instructing, giving feedback, asking questions, making suggestions, and summarizing. Connor and Pokora (2017) claim that coaching is “the learning and development method for senior staff and high flyers” (p.10). Kline (1999) stresses that coaching is a case of executive power where a leading person is endowed with a particular set of aptitudes allowing them to be in close contact with team members. The main prerogative of a coach is to help their subordinates eradicate all possible risks and threats arising on their development paths. Obviously, the coaching process focuses on making or creating positive alterations in subordinates’ behaviors. This technique enables people to grow professionally in a short time duration. Additionally, an efficient coach helps their team followers understand their true selves better to stimulate their successful working perf

Mentoring vs. Coaching – Differences

Difference 1 – Building Personal Interconnection


The mentoring model prioritizes human relations, as a mentor wants to share their life experiences with their followers in order to illustrate what obstacles and pitfalls, they might encounter on their career paths. McCarthy (2014) highlights that mentoring focuses on several dimensions, such as “listening, empathy, focusing, challenging, and developing preferred scenarios and actions” (p.13). Undoubtedly, both a mentor and a mentee have to apply particular competencies and skills to build a reliable relationship defining specific techniques. These techniques are harmony and balance in career and life prospects, self-perception; self-confidence; releasing of possible negative impacts on a mentee’s professional performance. According to these primary purposes of mentoring models, there are two significant major approaches. They are the mentoring development aiming at mentees’ assistance in enhancing their thinking quality; and mentoring sponsorship regarding the organizational performance.


Coaching is apt for achieving concrete goals, such as strategic and rational thinking development, speech presentation and structuring, and an employee management increase. To get the desired effect to raise an organization’s efficiency, a coach or an expert performs as a primary executive force eligible to manage such goals. In this case, coaches’ number one priorities are clear assignment definition and further detection of tools needed for these tasks’ accomplishment. According to O’Connell (2013), “two core skills are widely recognized to provide the foundations for effective coaching: questioning and listening” (p.26). These two techniques enable a coach to build strong interrelations between them and their followers, as listening is a form of communication aiming at anticipating company participants’ needs and expectations in terms of their promotion.

Difference 2 – The Process Duration


The mentoring model is a long-standing session, as it requires a lot of hours and efforts to earn mentees’ trust and support. A mentor has to implement unique techniques to identify participants’ temper, characters, and working potentials. To make a detailed evaluation of mentees’ prospects, a mentor has to immerse himself into a micro working space to adjust personal contacts with organization participants. The complete immersion might help a mentor provide their team members with refined conditions tailoring to mentees’ needs. Additionally, it takes much time to win participants’ trust and unconditional commitment to prosperous company performance.


The coaching model is a short-term process, as a coach needs a couple of sessions to make decisions concerning objectives to undertake. A coach aims at concrete goals to accomplish during their performance. Starr (2008) stresses that the benefits of coaching management “include freeing up the time coaches waste managing details that others are capable of handling” (p.55). This approach enables experts to focus more creatively and strategically over a short time period.

Difference 3 – Development and Efficiency


The critical mentoring objective is the consecutive development of mentees’ cognitive skills and competence. In other words, the mentor’s methods and recommendations concerning learning processes are aligned with the universal and multidimensional development of company participants’ facilities. Mentoring is a case of mutually beneficial partnership. A mentor and a mentee might reap their rewards in case of mutual cooperation. The mentoring approach is the best perspective of enhancement of communicative skills, viewpoint expansion, and new technique consideration. In mentoring partnership, both a mentor and their followers are aligned with mutual enlightenment and career advancement.


The coaching purpose is the personal efficiency improvement regarding development at work. This approach upholds either current knowledge boosting or orienting on new knowledge enhancement. It is a case of getting relevant and working knowledge on a trainee’s behalf and the way they hand it down to their followers. In case the interaction is booming and followers act out in accordance with the trainee’s instructions, the coaching process is supposed to be complete.

Difference 4 – Interaction Building Structure

While defining critical differences between coaching and mentoring, two significant notions such as an object and a subject must be characterized. When it comes to the object nature, it is a category describing several processes impacted by cognitive, physical, and managing activities (process or occurrence). The subject is aligned with career activity, cognition, and consciousness; the subject itself might function as the object and play the social body’s role. Considering this standpoint, the coaching management focuses on the subject’s nature, as all informative data is directed to the audience to refine its professional enhancement and organization participants’ competency. In contrast, the mentoring approach is aimed at the objective nature regarding people’s mental and spiritual growth.


As mentioned previously, mentoring is a long-standing process requiring a step-by-step structure in order to let participants know each other better for further efficient cooperation. During this process, a mentor tries to implement the strategic and rational nature of mutual goal; and detect what ways and tools are needed for achieving this goal. In their practices, a mentor focuses on social and personal orientations rather than practical ones, as their primary goal is to find proper solutions to fulfill mentees’ ambitions and working expectations.


The coaching process does not apply for a step-by-step structure, as it might be penetrated in organizational maintenance immediately after the goal realization. Even if a coach is not aware of primary company objectives, they are able to incorporate restorative steps and approaches to stimulate the development of organization performances, where participants perform as crucial elements of company prosperity. Van Nieuwerburgh (2020) claims that the critical role of a coach is “to demonstrate a particular coaching way of being” (p.25). This pattern is a central behavioral framework that enables all of the expert’s followers to participate in all company processes undertaken to put in their collaborative efforts to administer a company adjustment successfully.

Mentoring vs. Coaching – Similarities

Mentoring and coaching models have several similar options, as both of these management structures are aligned with creating a fruitful rapport between experts/teachers and their followers. They try to support the development of different branches in micro and macro working environments. In other words, both a mentor and a coach nurture a favorable relationship structure. They present themselves as leaders committed and devoted their career paths to their followers’ success and advancement. During their policies, they operate on listening-and-questioning philosophy, as listening skills accentuate their conversation values. Evidently, a mentor and a coach bear primary responsibility for their team workers’ success and competency, as they both stress the importance of collective interchangeable cooperation (Zeus and Skiffington, 2002). Both of them are involved in practices tailoring their team members’ needs and wants. They want to impart their first-hand subjective experience and rational standpoints to their subordinates to motivate them and stimulate company prosperity.

A coach and a mentor serve their followers so that they can access information repositories for their further promotion and enlightenment. These component experts are driven by similar objectives, such as assistance, support, and guidance of their aides. Both of them stimulate an individual’s development, conduct a series of sessions and meetings, and try to improve personal rapport with their team followers. A coach and a mentor might increase participants’ retention and engagement when applied.


Mentoring is needed when:

  • The company executive has to maintain the balance of working mechanisms considering both professional and personal options;
  • A company adjustment needs to enhance and boost cognitive skills and aptitudes of company participants during the practical cooperation between a mentor and a mentee;
  • A mentor realizes the importance of preserving professionalism and competencies of mentees;
  • A mentor wants to overcome obstacles and eradicate all possible risks and threats undermining their followers’ development;
  • A mentor taps into a complex and elaborate evaluation of employees’ personal indications utilizing training them and counseling.

Coaching is required when:

  • A coach is aligned with achieving and tapping into new information data regarding broaden and expansion of their liabilities and responsibilities;
  • An organization process requires a specific subdivision needing a competency increase;
  • A coach implements new training programs and structures for company performance;
  • There are talented individuals, but they need to find valuable tools to expand their potential; this is why they resort to coaches’ services;
  • An organization needs a professional who can develop people’s relevant specializations and competencies designed within a short period of time.

Mentors and coaches are trainers and teachers willing to provide their followers with opportunities and prospects for their professional growth. This working combination is somewhat executive power stimulating possible prerequisites for team workers’ mental development and potential operating enhancement. A competent leader has to apply these management approaches in order to expand their followers’ outlooks and standpoints to make them step in the right direction. Mentors and coaches have to build incorporate relationships with their subordinates to guarantee company prosperity. In case a leader taps into the combination of creativity and practicality, both of these approaches will pay them off, as juggling mentoring and coaching is the correct applicable option.

Reference List

Clutterbuck, D. (2014) Everyone needs a mentor. Kogan Page Publishers.

Connor, M. and Pokora, J. (2017) Coaching and mentoring at work: developing effective practice: developing effective practice. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

Downey, M. (2015) ‘Effective modern coaching’, Human Resource Management International Digest, 23 (2), pp. 73-84.

Grant, A. M. (2016) Beyond Goals, ‘New perspectives on goal setting in coaching practice: an integrated model of goal-focused coaching’. General Press.

Kline, N. (1999) Time to think: listening to ignite the human mind. Hachette UK.

McCarthy, G. (2014) Coaching and mentoring for business. Sage.

O’Connell, B., Palmer, S., & Williams, H. (2013) Solution focused coaching in practice. Routledge. General Press.

Starr, J. (2008) Brilliant Coaching. How to Be a Brilliant Coach in Your Workspace. Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Van Nieuwerburgh, C. (2020) An introduction to coaching skills: a practical guide. Sage.

Zeus, P. and Skiffington, S. (2002) The coaching at work toolkit. McGraw-Hill Book Company Australia.

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