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One of the most frequent questions that I am asked as a coach is, “What is the difference between a coach and a mentor?” While the skills required are similar, and both are used as professional development tools, the structure and the outcome are quite different.
The best place to start is a definition of coaching and mentoring.
Coaching: The International Coach Federation (https://coachfederation.org) defines coaching as “Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
Mentoring: A simple, broad definition of mentor is “an experienced and trusted advisor.” BusinessDictionary.com defines mentoring as an “Employee training system under which a senior or more experienced individual (the mentor) is assigned to act as an advisor, counselor, or guide to a junior or trainee. The mentor is responsible for providing support to, and feedback on, the individual in his or her charge.” One note of clarification: While many organizations offer in-house mentoring programs, often as part of a leadership training program, it is common for mentees to work with mentors outside their organization.
Working with a mentor can be an invaluable experience for both parties. The mentor and mentee will likely learn new things about themselves and each other that will help them move toward career goals. But to make the relationship work, each party needs to understand the role they play.
The role of a mentor is to act as: