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Coaching vs Mentoring: Three reasons why organisations should prioritise coaching

The Business Coaching Academy


Many organisations frequently ask about the difference between coaching and mentoring, and whether it matters. It does matter, especially if you're responsible for implementing a coaching or mentoring programme or if you're a leader sponsoring one, because these two approaches lead to different outcomes... Here's why.

Think of coaching and mentoring as two distinct forms of communication and styles. Mentoring is like push communication. It involves sharing knowledge, skills, and experience by pushing it onto others when they need it or when they come to you with questions or problems. It can be useful if used correctly.

On the other hand, coaching is the opposite of mentoring. It's a communication style that fosters hope. It involves asking thought-provoking questions, helping individuals reflect and think better, rationalise, and adapt cognitively. You may be a great mentor because of your expertise and experience, but coaching requires a different set of communication skills that not everyone possesses.

So why bother with coaching instead of just sticking to mentoring, which is easier?


  1. Firstly, if you want to see more personal ownership and agency among individuals in your organisation, if you want people to take more responsibility for themselves and become self-sufficient, then coaching is the way to go. Coaching promotes psychological ownership, where the coach's role is not to fix or save, but to help the individual figure out how to progress. In contrast, mentoring can create a dynamic where the mentor takes psychological ownership and solves the mentee's problem instead.


  1. The second reason to consider more coaching and less mentoring is the possibility that mentors may be wrong or not particularly skilled in their area. If mentors share biased views or give poor advice, it can be detrimental, especially for leaders.


  1. Lastly, imagine if you have a team or people coming to you seeking guidance. If you simply share your wisdom and tell them to do things your way, you inadvertently create a mini version of yourself and stifle diversity of thought. It's important to embrace different perspectives and encourage others to come up with innovative ideas that may surpass your own.

If all you do is focus on mentoring, you hinder people's ability to think critically and independently. In a high-performance culture, you want individuals to think and think their best. You shouldn't discourage thinking because that hampers personal growth. That's why you need to enhance your coaching skills and not solely rely on mentoring.

The Business Coaching Academy

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