Mentoring and Coaching Are Not the Same

When it comes to leadership development the words “coaching” and “mentoring” are often used interchangeably. Most people assume that they mean the same thing.

On the surface they do seem to be very similar. They both involve a figures who helps guide a leader to success.

In reality, there are some big differences between mentoring and coaching. Both tasks are essential and have a role to play in developing leadership. When developmenting a leadership programs combine both will give the best result.
Here’s what “mentoring” and “coaching” actually mean, and why both are important to leadership development:

Mentoring is about experience.

The mentor shares their own personal experiences, insights and knowledge with the mentee. Mentoring is focused on overall development, rather than specific skills and actions to improve them.
Mentors and Mentees share their experiences they share advice, vent, test out new ideas and more.
Relationships matter in development.
Mentors provide a guiding hands to help leaders grow and develop professionally. They are there as a sounding board and and support mechanism.
61% of 7,000 millennials surveyed by Deloitte said that having somebody to turn to for advice and help developing their leadership skills was beneficial.
Those who said they planned to stay with their employer for more than five years were twice as likely to say they had a mentor. This suggests that leaders who have a mentor, are more connected to their job.
A study by leadership consultancy Gallup found that there was a significant improvement in employee engagement when they had regular meetings with their managers compared with those who didn’t. 44% versus 20% respectively.
These numbers show that mentoring is critical to keeping leaders committed to their jobs and striving to be better.
Mentoring and coaching

Coaching is focus on action.

Mentoring comes from the experience of the mentor, coaching does the opposite it comes from the person being coached.

Unlike Mentors, coaches prompt leaders to reflect on their experience and draw their own conclusions. To put this another, a mentor will point out what they think could have done better. A coach will ask the individual what he or she could improve on and how to make that happen.

Reflection makes better leaders.

Coaches help their clients to set a specific plans and actions for improvement. A plan that can be follow through on and actually change their behavior and improve their skills.
Coaching supports leaders to draw on their own conclusions and develop solutions.
A study from the Harvard Business School found that people who were asked to reflect on a task improved at a greater rate than participants who merely practiced a task.
Leaders need someone to coach them to think for themselves while keeping them accountable for their actions and development.


Both are needed.

As I said right at the beginning mentoring and coaching are different. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. Both mentoring and coaching are important parts of leadership development.
Advice and insights from a mentor can provide leaders with new ways of looking at things and learn from the experience of others.
Coaching provides the opportunity for leaders to reflect on their own experiences. It helps to set specific plans for improvements.

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