Project Management Central

Please login or join to subscribe to this thread

Topics: Agile, Communications Management, Leadership
Mentoring v/s Coaching?

I was asked this question a few days back, I could come up with a satisfactory answer (I think! :), hence bringing it up for consideration. How do you distinguish between mentoring and coaching?
Sort By:

Amit -

In my opinion, I think coaching is more general and it could be applied to a person or to a team. On the other hand, mentoring is more personalized and involves frienship.


I think it is used interchangeably by many. There is some coaching in mentoring and mentoring in coaching but my personal opinion is that coaching is more hands on. A mentor is there for guidance and advice and lead by example i.e. do as I do. A mentor is often shadowed by a mentee in order to learn. A coach, on the other hand, instructs and is more a do as I say approach. Mentors are always people that are successful in their respective fields but a coach does not imply a good doer.

Great question!
I agree completely with Giancarlo.

Where a coach will observe the game and give instruction to the team captain and other players on what play to run and how to execute it, a mentor will teach the team captain how to lead the team themself.

In organized mentoring programs I've been in, there is a structured plan between the mentor and mentee on the personal development goals, and part of that goal setting process between the two is actually to develop a friendship going forward.

Good question.

I totally agree with Mr. Anton. Coach is a person who teaches you how to do it. Whereas, mentor is a person who guides you to do it better way. Coach will teach you the standard ways of doing something. But mentor will guide through his experience, the obstacles he faced and overcame and will encourage you to overcome your obstacles. And yes, there is some coaching in mentoring and there is some mentoring in coaching,

Coaching is to the group(team, department, Org) and mentoring is in the group but one to one.

Mentor and mentee relationship: could be one to many.

Mentoring usually focuses on one objective and is initiated by the mentee whereas coaching can apply to a broader set of goals and is often initiated by the coach. The former tends to be competency-driven whereas the latter is capability-driven. Also, a mentor is expected to have deep subject matter expertise whereas a coach doesn't.


Great explanation by Kiron.

I think in the business context they are mostly interchangeable. However, there are lots of web discussions that try to clarify the difference.

I think professionally, a "mentor" tends to be someone you look up to, someone who practices in your area of expertise (or an area you wish to be an expert in), someone who provides ongoing tips and push to move forward.

I think "coach" is used less often professionally and is used to refer to someone who provides a structured, ongoing approach to development and isn't necessarily someone who practices in the area of focus. A coach can be professionally trained to be a coach.

A coach is helping to close a skills gap, it could be 1:1 or 1:many and is usually initiated by a manager or project manager who recognizes this gap. Coaching may be or not a friendly relationship and can be forced on someone.

A mentorship has to be a friendly relationship, it can be canceled by either party if they feel so. It is always 1:1 and aims to make the mentee more mature in the mentoring subject, hence a mentor has to be more mature in something, but not everything (a 16 year old may mentor his grandma in using an IPAD). A manager / project manager is probably not the best mentor for a team member, since there may be the need for coaching.

Please login or join to reply

Content ID:

"This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy."

- Douglas Adams