Comparison to distinguish Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching and Mentoring as means for Leadership development get spoken in the same breath.

That’s probably the reason these get confused and used interchangeably.

Coaching is all about the Coachee/Client/Leader. The Coach supports the Leader in finding answers to challenges and solutions. As described by ICF,

Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

—International Coach Federation

Coaching provides a safe space for the Leader to share, explore and take risks which makes it possible for him to look at areas he would have not been able to look at alone/without a coach. The Leader uses reflection and dialogue to get insights into the situations to find solutions to challenges.

Leadership coaching is . . . based on the commitment to align beliefs with actions. Coaching leaders communicate powerfully, help others to create desired outcomes, and hold relationships based on honesty, acceptance, and accountability.

—Bianco-Mathis, Nabors, and Roman (Leading From the Inside Out: A Coaching Model, 2002, 4)

Mentoring on the other hand is partnering with an experienced resource in an particular area of development. The mentor uses his wisdom to support the Leader in thinking and take action in order to get better at the area of development. So here the focus is Mentor’s wisdom though the beneficiary is still the Leader/Mentee.

Here are some aspects that differentiate these two practices:




Individuals, Teams, Organisations



Future; Identify/ Achieving a desired future state

Advancing in organisation, Networking, Understanding work dynamics


Architects-Lead from behind;Client chooses the direction forward

Share own experiences to benefit recipient


Partners working together to achieve a client stated goal

Experienced individual helping novice


Goals, Vision, Plan identified

Forward progress on Action steps

Organisational/Work dynamics

Length of Relationship

Leader as Coach- ongoing

External – 6-12 mths to achieve significant cane

Short term to longer periods

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