There are a lot of similarities between mentoring and coaching. When done well, both result in self-discovery and learning for not only the recipient but also the provider. Both are long-term in nature and development-oriented. In both cases, the parties involved have “gotta wanna”: the provider must want to coach or mentor, and the recipient must want to be coached or mentored.
But what are the differences?
Coaching often follows a defined process. Whether it’s a basketball coach or business coach, most approach it intentionally with thought about what to do, how, when, and why. Although they should, mentors typically don’t follow a process. They often approach mentoring in an informal way, responding to proteges’ needs on an ad hoc basis.
The title “coach” is self-bestowed and doesn’t have to be earned; anyone can call him/herself a coach. The title “mentor” is bestowed by others and earned over time.
And, of course, coaches usually get paid. Mentors don’t.