Differences between Coaching and Mentoring


Coaches are experts in the coaching process and may not have specific knowledge of a given subject area or industry. Where coaches have expertise in other areas they may use it to facilitate the coaching process. Coaches do not use this particular expertise to diagnose, direct or design solutions for the client. Mentors will expect to deliver examples of how they have performed in the past and will usually have an area of specific interest that the person seeks to know more about.


Relationship is the foundation of coaching and mentoring. The coach and client intentionally develop a relationship which is characterised by a growing and mutual appreciation and respect for each other as individuals. This relationship is not an adjunct to or by-product of the coaching or mentoring. Nor is it based on the client’s position or performance. Rather it is a liking of the mutual benefit the coaching or mentoring offers.

Use of Information

In coaching, information drawn from the client is used by the coach to promote the client’s awareness and choice of action. This information is not used to evaluate performance or produce reports for anyone but the person being coached. Mentoring is overseeing the growth and performance of the client offering guidence and intervention if needed, e.g. introducing to people useful to career through networking.


Coaching has the freedom and flexibility to address a wide variety of personal and professional topics. In any given coaching relationship, coach and client alone determine the scope of their work. Coaching is not necessarily restricted to a narrowly defined issue nor is its scope determined in any other way. The mentor will, to an extent, control the scope and flow of work in response to questions, rather than as a coach who will be asking questions.

Contribution to Results

In coaching, any contribution the coach makes to produce the client’s desired outcome is through ongoing interaction with the client. The coach’s role does not include producing a contracted product or result outside of the coaching sessions. There is no expected emotional buy-in from the coach as to the success of the client, although sharing achievements is normal. A mentor may take the opportunity to share with others the results and may even use the opportunity to tell others of the client’s achievements that occurred as a result of the mentoring.

Ongoing Impact

Coaching is designed to provide clients with a greater capacity to produce results and a greater confidence in their ability to do so. It is intended that clients do not leave coaching with a perception that they need to rely on a coach in order to produce similar results in the future. Mentoring is expected to be a longer term arrangement that is ceased through mutual agreement or when either client or mentor no longer is benefiting. It may be a lifetime relationship or could be short term if part of a formal program, e.g. induction mentor.