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May 17, 2012 By Derek Lauber 2 Comments Mentoring and professional coaching are frequently used interchangeably in theory and practice in the business world. While they share similarities, there are distinct differences, which affect their application and outcomes. Mentoring and coaching focus on positive future outcomes, professional growth and learning.
The mentee and the client receive more out of the relationship or partnership than the mentor and the coach. Coaching works with a client to develop unique, personalized, lasting solutions to professional and personal development issues by improving a client’s self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall “thinking process”. Mentoring offers specific advice usually from a senior position within the organization who has “been there before”.
Coaches are professionally trained to evoke their clients fullest potential, being careful not to be didactic which limits the learning process. Coaching engagements work within specific parameters including a focused development plan, formal reporting to the corporate sponsor, and a specific end date in which the goals should be met. Coaching utilizes professional assessment tools such as The Leadership Circle Profile 360 to help discover development opportunities, then formulate a development plan that drives the coaching sessions. Mentoring meetings are often more brainstorming oriented with a collaborative effort to find the best solution. Mentors offer access to new contacts, make introductions to important people in your field.
Coaching is a collaborative partnership between coach and client to work towards specific, jointly agreed upon goals.
Coaching evokes a personalized plan, process or approach that best suits the client therefore producing lasting, transformational change.


Coaches can be internal (staff at your company) or external (brought in for specific people or programs). Mentoring is often hierarchical, where the mentor is in a senior position and has experience, knowledge and contacts the mentee hopes to gain from at this particular point in their career. Take a leader, which is seeking to guide a mentee towards advancement into a particular position within the company.
In conclusion, coaching is a formal relationship where the coach assists the client in changing thinking and behaviors to develop new competencies and ways of being towards their goals.
Understanding the similarities, differences and applications between mentoring and coaching gives leaders and managers powerful distinctions as to the application and expected outcomes from each discipline.
Most often, organizations and individuals engage in a mentoring or coaching relationship for professional development purposes.
Knowing when to use each of these methods of development is key to realizing their full effectiveness. Both require understanding the problem you are trying to solve, clarifying the experience you wish to have, understanding where you are in your career and determining how much effort you are willing to put in on your own. It is assumed the client has the wisdom and ability to generate their own unique solutions, which will work best for them and their situation.
Allowing the client to develop through a personalized approach allows for development of a skill that can be applied to different situations and that can be enhanced, refined and mastered to provide the greatest impact to the individual for the longest term. The coach and the client assess the client’s strengths, challenges and competencies towards the advancement and create a development plan to move the client forward.
When working with an external coach, the client is more free to express their true obstacles and concerns without worrying it could be held against them in the future. Both mentoring and coaching are powerful tools for professional growth, depending on what your desired goal is, point in your career and learning style.


He helps small business owners and entrepreneurs transform their business by creating a culture of leadership, empowerment, innovation and profit quickly with less pain and lasting results. Instead of telling or advising, the coach assists in self-discovery by using probing questions, active listening, reflection and objective feedback to assist the client in creating new possibilities for action. Through regularly scheduled coaching conversations, the coach helps the client develop awareness, explore possibilities, take new actions and create new practices around their strengths, challenges and competencies to achieve their desired goal of advancement. This allows for greater growth by facing and working through those concerns to gain confidence and a solution that will work for them. The mentor’s expertise is necessary to help the mentee manage his way through the organization to learn and grow into the area or position.
Coaching emphasizes personal empowerment and responsibility towards the client’s development, whereas mentoring is more of a “here is what I did” experience.
The coach does not offer specific guidance on how to advance, but allows the client to develop his or her own unique style, which ties organically to their values and strengths. The mentee gains many of the tactical prescribed steps, but misses out on fully developing their own tools to allow them to do this more, if not completely, independently in the future. But the rewards a truly committed client will reap transcend their professional and personal lives.



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coaching versus professional development



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