Mentoring vs coaching – learn the 5 key differences

Mentoring vs coaching – learn the 5 key differences
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People who want to work on their personal development often come across the term coaching and mentoring. These methods of personal development are usually confused with each other because the differences between them are minimal (but they do exist!). Both forms of personal development work are used in the business sector. How to distinguish between them?

Basic differences

Mentoring and coaching are methods intended to contribute to personal development. Although both forms are intended to help develop an individual, they are slightly different from each other

The basic differences between these methods are presented in an accessible way in the table:

goalfocus on the short-term goalfocusing on long-term consequences, beyond the goal
methodsmoderation, observation, stimulation to independent actiongiving concrete advice and hints
methods of working with the clientlistening, asking questions and observationtelling about own experiences
main features of a teacherempathyexperience
determination of goal achievementon the basis of the mentee’s mental capacityon the basis of other people’s knowledge

Mentoring, or what?

Rozmowa podczas mentoringu

Mentoring is a form of partnership between a “master” and a “student”. Through this relationship, the “student” discovers and develops the potential of their personality. The mentor, on the other hand, plays the role of a teacher who is an expert helping to find the right path. Mentoring as a method of development focuses on providing guidance and assistance in creating success.

Benefits of mentoring:

  • is very flexible, so it can be tailored to individual needs,
  • increases the involvement of the “learner”,
  • does not exclude other forms of training,
  • it is individual oriented,
  • it is relatively cheap.

Types of mentoring

The increase in interest in personal development has given rise to different types of mentoring that can be tailored to individual needs. Some of the most popular include mentoring:

  • corporate (in business) – found especially in larger corporations, where the mentor is an advisor and guide to his or her “student” at various stages of their career,
  • industrial – a mentor is a person responsible for training which is necessary to obtain appropriate professional qualifications,
  • social – refers to support for people who are in a difficult life situation and need advice and mental support when making important decisions

A few words about coaching

(photo: Raul Petri, source:

Coaching is classified as a psychological method, it is a process of realizing oneself under the supervision of a coach, in order to increase one’s effects and achieve desired goals. The role of the coach is to direct the thoughts of the “student” in such a way that he/she comes up with an idea to solve his/her problems. During a session, a coach asks a lot of different questions to show the “student” the world from a different perspective. The coach usually has knowledge of psychology and effective motivation.

Benefits of coaching:

  • increases motivation,
  • stimulates creativity,
  • increases flexibility of action,
  • helps in taking up new challenges independently,
  • is a support for the career,
  • allows for skillful balancing of time between work and personal life.

Types of coaching

In coaching, several types can be distinguished, taking into account the spheres of life, the improvement of which is focused on. We distinguish coaching:

  • personal – focusing on building the student’s own “I”,
  • life – concerning personal life and interpersonal relationships,
  • medical – involves working with patients and medical staff,
  • professional – focused on development and career of the trained person,
  • executive – involves working with staff who manage a company,
  • investment – includes activities in the field of widely understood investments,
  • business – which aims to help develop a business
  • group – meetings are held in groups with similar “challenges”.

Despite the differences, both coaching and mentoring are great ways for personal development. When choosing a particular method, it is worth taking into account your own predispositions, the nature of your work and your abilities

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