Mentoring vs. Coaching

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.

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