"My First 50 Years"


Coaching vs Mentoring

Posted at May 11, 2017 by Sharon on category Sharon Warmington

The Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring

I’m delighted to again be chosen to be an International Mentor for the University of Cambridge.  This will be my third year and I’ll be mentoring individuals who have been accepted onto the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme which stretches across the commonwealth.  A large part of my business model is leadership and corporate governance and as such I deliver executive coaching, especially to women leaders who wish to get into the boardroom and make impacting and lasting change.

For many, the differences or understanding between mentoring and coaching is unclear so hopefully, the following should help.

  1. Coaching is usually focussed on specific tasks or solid issues ie managing people more effectively, speaking more authentically or developing a strategic mind set.  Being clear about where or what you want to develop will help you to choose a coach with these specific skills or track record.  In terms of mentoring, this tends to be more relationship focused and a mentor will aim to create an environment for the mentee to openly share whatever issues or concerns they may have.  Coaching costs are usually based on added value rather than time spent.
  2. Coaching is usually short term and an experienced coach can work with the coachee to achieve the goals in a few short sessions or coaching can be extended over a longer period or on an ongoing basis to set and achieve more goals as you go along.  Mentoring is almost always over a long period of time as it requires time to properly develop the relationship between the two parties.  Truly successful mentoring relationships last between 9-12 months.
  3. Coaching is performance driven with the primary purpose of it being to improve the coachee’s performance which is linked to enhancing current skills or developing new ones.  Once these new/increased skills are mastered, the coach is no longer needed.  In contrast, the mentor and mentee relationship is development driven not only in terms of the current situation but also for the future.

It’s important to also understand when you need a coach or when you need a mentor

You will need a COACH if…

  • You need to develop specific skills or competencies.
  • You are not meeting your goals or expectations
  • You wish to change direction or your career

You will need a MENTOR if…

  • You want to remove barriers that are hindering you from growth.
  • You want long term support and guidance
  • You want a holistic view of your situation

On a personal note, I enjoy both coaching and mentoring individuals but I’d say my coaching skills are stronger because I’m so focused and driven by set goals and will do what is necessary to achieve them. I of course have a coach (well more than one actually) but I don’t have a mentor because I like to focus on short, medium and long term goals and this works better (for me) in a coaching environment.


Whatever you want to achieve, if you don’t have a coach or  a mentor, get one –  the investment is more than worth it.



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