Mentoring vs Coaching – Mentor for Purpose (Part 1)


This is the first of a series on Mentor for Purpose…a deeper-dive into mentoring and its fit with Knowing Yourself Deeply and Life Purpose.

There are a lot of similar terms – mentoring, tutoring, coaching, life coaching, executive coaching – but I want to focus on two:  mentoring and coaching.  I like the following definitions as provided by a friend, Rina Saperstein, from a paper she wrote.

  • Mentoring: A mentor is a person who works one-on-one with another person to help them reach their potential.  Mentoring is interactive, and although it works towards goals, those goals are set by the mentee, and change over time. Mentoring is about inspiration, motivation, and information.
  • Coaching is a professionalized version of mentoring where the mentee employs a coach to help him or her achieve a goal. The analogy to a sports coach is intentional, and many of the best characteristics of coaching are used in mentoring as well.

Mentoring is a relationship-based process owned by the mentee with outcomes directed by the mentee.  It can be unstructured in that you simply ask the mentee what is on their mind or structured with an agreed-to agenda.  It is usually long-term (months/years) but it can be short-term.  There may be times of coaching on specific topics within the relationship to enhance skills and capabilities.  The mentoring and coaching elements are intertwined.

My blog series theme is “mentor for purpose”.  This encourages thinking about vision, strengths and values.  Coaching may be needed to apply the “technical skill” of visioning or strength identification.

Here is another good article from Management Mentors.

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