Coaching and Mentoring -
the Difference between Coaching and Mentoring?
Guiding others through life can be a daunting, but potentially
rewarding task for any one up to the challenge. The
person doing the guiding has a fine line to walk.
On one hand he must be strong enough to rebuke the follower if that
person ignores advice.
On the other hand, he must sometimes allow the follower to stray,
so that the follower can better understand why things
should be done differently. The people doing the guiding
generally fall into the categories of coaches and
While the two roles are similar in some ways, they are in fact very
different. Before taking someone under your wing to help
them progress through life, it's important to understand
the difference between coaching and mentoring.
Mentoring generally involves a closer and deeper
relationship than is seen in coaching. The leader and
follower in this relationship are most commonly referred
to as mentor and protégé. The mentor is
often older than the protégé, and is certainly more
knowledgeable, wise, and more experienced. The mentor's
task is to be the guide for the inexperienced protégé,
with the desired result of the protégé growing closer to
mentor's level of knowledge and experience over time.
The mentor-protégé relationship is as old as history itself.
There are many variations of this relationship. For
example, when a new employee first enters a company or
business, he or she is generally adopted by someone who
has been in there for a longer time. Because the new
employee will likely at first feel uncomfortable or
might not be prepared for the challenges of the new
workplace, the mentor serves as a buffer and guide,
making the transition easier for the protégé, and
accelerating the process of integration and becoming a
Another example - when an existing employee exhibits potential as
someone who could one day assume a position with greater
responsibility - a person experienced in the company
could informally take on this employee and be his or her
mentor. In this relationship, the mentor teaches the
protégé the necessary skills to advance in the
The concept of coaching is quite different from mentoring.
In coaching, a leader or overseer directs the movements
of one person or a group. The instruction and training
given are done with a specific end goal in mind. The
methods of directing people's movements and actions
might include giving motivational talks. The
coach may also train people to make them perform better,
such as through seminars or workshops, or through
practice such as done in sports.
In mentoring, a mentor teaches a protégé how to live better
or how to function better. In coaching, actually
a more specific method of mentoring, the coach guides an
individual or a team to achieve an end goal.
For sports coaches, this would be winning a game or event. For
marriage coaches, the goal would be a stronger marital
bond. For family coaches, it would be a stronger
familial bond, between parents and children, or possibly
amongst the children themselves.
There are many different kinds of coaching and mentoring,
and many different techniques associated with each as
well. Whether a coach or a mentor is more appropriate
for your particular situation is something you will
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Give a man a fish and he
will eat for the day,
teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime
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