“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image,
but giving them the opportunity to create themselves”
– Steven Spielberg

Is mentoring the same as coaching?

This is the common question and confusion most have! Are they the same or different?

Both mentoring and coaching help an individual in achieving better results. However, there is a thin line of difference between the two because of the very process that is involved. Hence, it is important for every student/mentee to understand this thin line that separates the two so as to appreciate and gain from the mentoring process.

What approach should a coach or mentor take while with the student / mentee? Should they be telling the student/mentee what needs to be done, or explain how something is done, or even better – demonstrate how the approach should be? This basically forms the crux of the difference between mentoring and coaching.

A coaching session is fairly structured and of short duration. A coach actually tells and explains the student/mentee what needs to be done. In return, the student/mentee takes the lead to ask questions and expects answers/solutions. Very often the coaching can also be done through clear demonstration and actions.

Mentoring session is generally unstructured, informal and over a longer period of time. Mentor builds a relationship with the student/mentee to first understand them and then begins a discussion to arouse the student/mentee to open up to the mentor.

What then is involved in Mentoring? And, what can one expect from a mentor during the mentoring period?

Mentoring traverses beyond coaching – it forces the mentee to think beyond the ordinary to realise his/her own true potential. It is in effect, a discovery process for the mentee.

It is often said, “a good mentor is someone who teaches you how to think and not what to think”. A great or a meaningful mentoring process is one where the mentee is inspired to do something.

Mentoring is a process of sharing knowledge, experience, and skills with the mentee, imparting confidence and giving a direction. Mentoring focusses upon development of the individual being mentored; coaching on the other hand is goal and performance driven.

A mentor thus empowers a mentee to see a possible future and more importantly, give the mentee the confidence that it can be achieved. Mentoring process is the beginning of a mentor-mentee relationship that’s built on trust and with the purpose of learning from experience.

Mentoring leaves the mentee with the feeling, “Yes!!! Someone like me can certainly do this”.