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Coaching v Mentoring

Recently I was invited to be on the panel for one of my client's Women In Tech initiatives, where we discussed the benefits of Mentoring and the value it brings to both individuals and organisations. As Mentoring can easily be confused with Coaching, to kick off, we discussed the differences between the two.

Coaching and Mentoring both exist for the same reasons, to help people realise their full potential and become the best version of themselves. However, there are a number of differences between the two, so whilst they are complementary it's important to see them as separate approaches.

To quickly and easily understand the differences, think of Coaching as Pulling information from an individual and Mentoring as Pushing the information onto an individual (see below diagram).

So to help you understand in more detail the differences between the two, see the explanations below:

What is a Coach?

A coach is someone who can up-skill and train you in specific development areas. They may identify and prioritise improvement areas, break down your end goal into smaller goals, and work with you to shape and grow your mindset.

Coaches can help you understand yourself better, train your brain, and equip you with the skills to handle future challenges and situations.

Compared with mentoring, coaching is typically more structured and tailored to specific outcomes, as opposed to general personal development.

What is a mentor?

A mentor is someone who can guide, advise, and support you to be the best you can be in your career. They take time to understand you, the way you work, and the challenges you're facing, and then advise you based on their understanding and personal experience to help you improve.

The benefits of coaching and mentoring can have include increasing confidence, communication skills, aspiration, and exposure to new perspectives.

In both mentoring and coaching, there is:

  • Trust between both parties

  • A desire to develop

  • Knowledge sharing

  • Discussion of goals

  • Exposure to new ways of thinking

  • Skill development

  • Focus on career progression

  • The unlocking of someone's potential

Once you understand the similarities and differences between coaching and mentoring, you can see how they are able to complement each other.

In some instances, they can both co-exist when you have a qualified Coach who also has extensive knowledge and experience of a specific industry, role or challenge. As a result, those with coaches or mentors are more likely to feel motivated and progress in their careers.

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