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  • Desmond Boateng

Perspectives on Mentoring and Coaching: 5 Points to Consider.

"Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest thing can happen"

Pete Carroll

More often than not, the idea of mentoring and coaching are easily confused and used interchangeably. In any way, they have a similar end goal, which is to develop a person to his or her full potential.

According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), coaching can be defined as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

Whilst, mentoring, according to Eric Parsloe, is to support and encourage people to manage their learning, so that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become what they want to be.

Let's explore five (5) points of differences between mentoring and coaching. Keep in mind, these views could vary depending on the context and nature of coaching or mentoring program one finds themselves in.

1. Timeframe

While the time frame may vary from one person to the other, a coaching program is usually six months or not more than a year with a regularly scheduled meeting plan. Mentoring usually takes more than a year. If not within a structured program, mentoring is generally informal and is based on mutual trust and respect. Meetings between a mentor and mentee are based on the mentee and often as and when they have suitable times to meet.

2. Drive

In coaching, the person who drives and steers the affairs of the relationship is the coach. The coach defines a clear set of goals and objectives to be achieved during a meeting. The coachee may make inputs as and when needed, but it is not expected of him to drive the conversation. Mentoring is quite the opposite. In mentoring, the mentee drives the relationship. Mentoring is mentee driven! They often make decisions that affect the relationship and receive guidance from the mentor.

3. Goals

In mentoring, the goal of the mentor is to advise and guide the mentee towards the desired future. Mentoring takes a holistic approach in the total development of an individual. But in coaching, it is more focused on equipping the coachee with a particular skill or knowledge, or technical know-how to get the job done. It is also designed to improve the coachee's performance in an aspect of their job.

4. Expertise

More often than not, the coach usually has great expertise in a given area in which the coachee has an interest. For mentoring, the mentor may have had the first-hand experience of what the mentee has been experiencing. But it doesn't necessarily require that the mentor should have gone through similar experiences. The mentor may advise based on his/her experienced but the coach has a definite plan for the course of his expertise.

5. Voluntary

Most organizations and individuals hire coaches to address their coaching needs. In such cases, they are paid for their services. On the other hand, mentors often volunteer their time and in some cases, their resources to support mentees, especially in informal mentoring settings. In such cases, they willingly devote their time to a mentee without expecting compensation.

While coaching and mentoring may seem the same, the above defines some of the thin lines between them. However, as mentioned earlier, whereas their approach may vary depending on context, their end goal is very similar - to develop a person to his or her full potential.

At #MeetMentors, we are privileged to have a team of mentors who are dedicated to supporting the academic, career, talent and leadership development of young Africans.

Contact us if you want to be part of what we do.

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