Can You Explain The Difference Between A Coach And A Mentor?

Last Update: May 14, 2021

I've often wondered how many people confuse the difference between a coach and a mentor. What about you? If you know that difference kudos to you. Would you mind sharing your understanding with us?

I cannot ask this question without giving you my two cents worth. You can also comment if you agree or disagree with me and state your reasons why. Don't worry, I will not get offended if you disagree. It is always beneficial to get different points of view.

Most of us need coaches and mentors in our lives as we work towards meeting our goals. You may not need both at the same time, either. It depends on what your needs happen to be at that period in your life.

The Coach

When I think of a coach, sports comes to mind. If you played a sport, then the chances are you had a coach to train you to develop the skills you needed to excel. What qualities did you notice your coach had that you liked?

A coach is very much a hands-on person. They are the ones who set incremental goals for you and apply pressure on you to do what is necessary to meet these goals. They know if you want to succeed in your ultimate goal, it is critical you do the work and master all the necessary skills along the way. Sometimes, it is necessary for them to be firm with you and chastise you if they know you are not doing the work. Can you relate to that?

The Mentor

Where does a mentor fit in? I feel a mentor is most useful at a time after you have mastered the skills to meet your goals. A mentor doesn't teach you how to do anything. They are there for you to make the first contact and bounce ideas of them. It is up to you to discuss solutions to problems with them and get their advice as to what could be the most optimum approach.

Rather than tell you what to do, a mentor will ask you questions to help you find your own direction. Unlike a coach who is a hands on person, a mentor is someone who you approach sparingly.

You do not bug them incessantly and expect them to provide you with the answers you need. Mentors are most useful in giving you advice, It is up to you to evaluate that advice and follow it if you feel it will help you.

The Contrast

A coach must be skilled in the area they are training you in. A mentor may know very little about the area of expertise you are working on. Their function is to get to know you as a person and to help you recognize your strengths and weaknesses so that you can address the problems you face with a better chance to succeed.

As a member of Wealthy Affiliate can you pinpoint who are the coaches and mentors in your business life within this community? I will only answer this question if I don't see any correct responses.

I am looking forward to a robust discussion. And if none materializes, I'll just go to a corner and have a good cry!

NOT! Just kidding. All the best to you in your affiliate marketing business.

Edwin

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EdwinBernard Premium
Hello everyone,

Thanks so much for all the excellent responses you provided. Everyone had something of value to contribute were we can all learn from.

One of my questions was, "As a member of Wealthy Affiliate can you pinpoint who are the coaches and mentors in your business life within this community?"

Since I didn't receive a straight response to this question here is my comment.

It is easy to identify the coaches in WA. Jay Neil and Kyle are the two who comes to mind. The Super Affiliates who have started to hold classes could also be classed into the category of coach. If you attend their classes live, you have the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers which make their sessions even more valuable.

Mentors are more difficult to identify. I consider the member who sponsored me my mentor. I bounce ideas off him and he gives me advice. Our interaction doesn't take place in real time. When I ask a question or request a comment, he may take several days to get back to me. He is very busy indeed building his business and earns over $10K a month. It took him several years to achieve these results so I consider him an excellent mentor.

When a member reaches out to a more experienced member for advice, I also consider this a mentor/mentee relationship. It is usually done sparingly.

We all have the ability to be both coaches and mentors here at WA. When you strive to become an Ambassador, the only way to achieve this position is to help other members. This activity can be either by briefly coaching someone or being a mentor to them.

I wish all of you much success in your business as well as paying it forward.

Cheers.

Edwin
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JEaston Premium Plus
Thank you so much, Edwin!
Nice message.
Thanks.
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richardgb Premium
Hi Edwin
I said I'd get back later... here I am...

and here's a Partha length comment ... sorry.

I kind of fell into coaching around 1980 and trained more formerly towards the end of the 80s.

In my earlier comment, I suggested that the roles of teacher and trainer should be considered too ... for the sake of brevity I will stick to Coach and Mentor with just a smidgeon of Teaching and Training.

Many of the skills of all four roles may well be practised by people fulfilling any of the 4 roles and perhaps the way they describe their role is likely to be based on the percentage of their role that they apply to a specific situation.

Starting then with my personal roles as a coach (and facilitator). These roles are very similar and can easily be described in exactly the same way. The primary difference between the roles is that a facilitator tends to work with teams focused on a specific project while coaches tend to work with individuals or teams with broader objectives.

Contrary to many definitions below, I have spent a great deal of my time not being an expert at anything other than coaching, I.E. I coached people in various sports and business environments in particular of which I had limited knowledge. Usually, the technical experts were my clients. Of course, sometimes I did have some expertise and usually had some knowledge and learned more on the way but it was not my role to teach technical skills.

As a coach, my focus is on inspiring individuals or teams to perform at their best. It's about getting people to take responsibility for their own development. This typically involves helping people to become very clear about what they want to achieve, and why they want to achieve it. Then it's about helping them to figure out what they need to do to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. It's largely about getting people to think and to, over time, stay motivated as they develop whatever skills they need to succeed. To me, coaching is largely about helping people learn the best ways for them to learn whatever it is they're focused on.

At WA I find myself sharing some of the expertise that I have been picking up along the way. To me, this is mentoring. It's more personal, more focused on specific challenges that someone has, and to my mind, mentoring is a cross between teaching and informal coaching requiring a more relaxed friendly relationship than more formal, coaching.

I have seen, for some years now, people calling themselves 'coach', online especially, and actually doing what I would call teaching. They are communicating (often excellently) ideas and practices that help people learn what they need to develop necessary, often technical, skills.

I think trainers have the hardest role. They are expected to be all things to all people ... they are called upon to teach theory and to lead the practice of technical and physical skills development. In sports, they are expected to do what it takes to prepare all aspects of fitness as well. In addition, they sometimes need the skills of a good coach as well.

Please do tell me what you think.
:-)
Richard
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EdwinBernard Premium
Hi Richard,

It was worth the wait. The field of sports fits your definition of roles very well. Sports teams have coaches and trainers. And the toles they play closely resemble your definition.

Thanks for providing an excellent response. I hope the members here take the time to read it.

Cheers.

Edwin
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richardgb Premium
Hi Edwin
Thanks for your thoughts.
I worked for IBM UK for 18 years. Although I have used sports in particular to highlight a trainers responsibilty, IBM had a ‘training’ department that specifically employed multi-tallented ‘trainers’ who fitted the description above very well.
:-)
Richard
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EdwinBernard Premium
Hi Richard,

IBM is one of those companies that has staying power and a lot of that I am sure is because of the training. You picked a good one to build your career in. At about $130B it is nothing to sneeze at. To put this into perspective, the company I worked for before retiring was Northrop Grumman. Their market cap is about $59B.

Here's the rub. The net worth of Jeff Bezos is $187B. Almost the sum of these two companies. Go figure!

Cheers.

Edwin
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jd500 Premium
For me, a mentor is like a role model, someone you can look up to for advice. Someone you can continue having a great relationship with even after you reach a certain level of success. A coach is like a business transaction that sets for a specific period of time. After everything is done, you may or may not ever hear from him/her again.
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EdwinBernard Premium
Hi Judith,

Thanks much for your contribution. In just a few words you defined the difference so eloquently. I really liked that.

All the best to you.

Cheers.

Edwin
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jd500 Premium
Thanks, Edwin, you always come up with an excellent point. Not until I read your post I never thought of it that way.
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EdwinBernard Premium
You're most kind!
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richardgb Premium
Hi Edwin
As a trained, certificated and experienced coach I have different distinctions to many here. Also I would be inclined to include the roles of teachers and trainers in the discussion.

Sorry I don’t have time to elaborate until later... as you might expect, my opinions are closer to those reflected by @philmedia (Phil) as outlined by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
:-)
Richard
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EdwinBernard Premium
Hi Richard,

I like that Phil introduced the consultant into the mix. Some great responses here indeed. If you have the time to elaborate I look forward to that.

Cheers.

Edwin
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richardgb Premium
In my limited experience of consultants, I believe they tend to be experts in a particular field and taken on relatively short-term to help answer specific questions.
:-)
Richard
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EdwinBernard Premium
Hi Richard,

In my aerospace field, it was common for those who retired to take on the role as consultants. This even applied to those who were let go because of company downsizing. Consultant had a nice ring to it in between job searches.

Cheers.

Edwin
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richardgb Premium
Interestingly, Edwin
When I took voluntary redundancy from IBM UK the training organisation took me on as a consultant for a couple of years.

They paid me about 50% more as a consultant than as an employee! It seemed odd until they pointed out that strict budgeting rules meant they had a surplus in a consultancy pot.

In practice though, I was working as a trainer helping to run change management courses, and as a facilitator for various specific department’s workshops.
:-)
Richard
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JEaston Premium Plus
I am in favor of the Mentor for me, Edwin!
Yes, the mentor probably knows what he is trying to tell you and help you do and what to do to improve your business and sales.
And it's up to you to do so. Coach, they also mastered all those necessary skills along the way, and they are more engaged with you and take necessary action for you to learn all the aspects, what schedule on you to be learned. Thanks for sharing, Edwin.
All the best,
Joyce
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EdwinBernard Premium
Great to hear from you Joyce. I appreciate your comments.

Cheers.

Edwin
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JEaston Premium Plus
Thank you, and You are most welcome, Edwin! :-)
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