Mentoring versus Coaching

February 2, 2017


Recently I presented a series of workshops on mentoring and Leadership Development to a group of executives in South America. The first question that came up in one of the discussions was this: Is there a difference between mentoring and coaching? If so, what is the difference? The research literature has plenty of discussion on this topic and different authors have different approaches to this question. After discussing some of those approaches with the workshop participants, I referred to an online survey conducted by the Center for Coaching & Mentoring, which summarized the differences in six specific areas as follows:











Source of Influence

Personal Returns



Flexible agenda


Perceived value

Affirmation /Learning



Specific agenda

Comes with the job



Task related

According to the findings of this survey, “mentoring is a power free, two-way mutually beneficial learning situation where the mentor provides advice, shares knowledge and experiences, and teaches using a low pressure, self-discovery approach” (Starcevich, 2009, published at On the other hand, coaching seems to be more task-oriented and more related to specific challenges and performance expectations at work. Both mentoring and coaching are important components of leadership development, but it is helpful to keep in mind the power-free and self-discovery nature of the mentoring relationship.

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