Are You Looking for A Coach, Mentor or Both? Relationships that Contribute to Our Success


As a master coach and speaker on the topic of mentorship, I am often asked: What is the difference between coaching and mentorship?

There are a number of businesses promoting mentorship while at the same time introducing formal coaching programs to enhance individual performance. Participants who are driven by success often ask about the difference so that they are clear on each definition and how they may participate and apply each concept to their own success track.

The short answer: coaching is a formal relationship based on skill development, that is process driven and results oriented. Mentorship on the other hand, is informal, exchanging industry information and sharing life experience.

Here is a quick chart for reference:

Formal business relationship
Specific term or duration
Specific dates/times to meet
Results oriented
Individual or team
Trained or Certified Individual

Informal personal relationship
Usually no time limit
No set schedule
Sharing and exchanging industry information
Life experience

Many articles have been written on creating a distinction between the two different types of relationships. They both are equally important to an individuals journey and you may often find that someone who engages a coach also has had a mentor. I often suggest that the skills required for each are very similar:

  • listening skills
  • empathy
  • decision making and flexibility
  • open communication
  • problem solving
  • leadership
  • negotiation, to name a few…

Each relationship is built on trust and respect, building confidence that contributes to personal and professional development. One relationship may support the other at different times throughout a career and be just as important to the overall journey for success.

Coaching is for a specific duration of time with specific deliverables and skill development. A good coach is able to work in various industries while a mentor is often someone from the same industry, sharing personal experience.

From my point of view, each is equally important and contribute to an individuals success tack. Finding the right person and making a solid connection will create a foundation for distinguishing which is the better option based on your current situation.

As a coach, I often work with individuals who have had a mentor and are now ready for a formal business relationship to enhance their toolbox of resources for continued success with specific deliverables and skill enhancement.

A success track often that starts with a mentor, is an introduction to new conversations on how to adapt and change with someone who is “coachable.”

As an example, I am an entrepreneurial coach working with individuals who are ready to scale and grow their business to the next level of success.  It’s not a cookie cutter approach as each individuals definition is based on their personal lifestyle choices and goals.

I am an advocate for finding the right type of relationship based on your own success track, each will provide support and encourage confidence to ensure that you are able to break barriers based on your own journey.

My advice: connect with a mentor that you respect and is widely successful in your industry, then, when the time is right find a coach who will introduce you to resources that will encourage you to move you and your business to the next level of success. Work with both a coach and mentor who have experienced each relationship in their own career. Nothing is better than working with someone who walks the walk and talks the talk.

What is absolutely important is your commitment to being coachable and making the right connection to accomplish your list of personal and professional goals.

Whether you choose a coach, mentor or combination of both is based on your own personal definition of success.

Be wildly successful!

“Be the person who starts a ripple that creates a wave of change”

Trish Tonaj is an author,  artist and speaker – sharing stories to inspire great ideas.
She has written two books: Diary of Change 12 Personal Tools and Breaking Barriers, 10 Entrepreneurial Women Share Their Stories.

Trish is the founder and blog host for and invites you to share your story!
With a love of writing she is a regular contributor to Thrive Global.

Visit Trish @ a division of Phaze2inc.
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