Both mentoring and coaching take place independently of line managers – they are open, honest relationships between the mentor or coach and their protégé. A mentor or coach is an ‘accountability partner’ who works in their protégé’s best interests. However, they also differ in certain ways.

Mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)”. The person in receipt of mentorship may be referred to as a protégé (male), a protégée (female), an apprentice or, in recent years, a mentee. (Source: Wikipedia)

However, an executive coaching engagement is formal and not necessarily face-to-face all the time. Also, the coach need not necessarily have greater relevant knowledge, or domain skills. A coach provides undivided one-on-one attention, questions, and challenges the coachee to expand his/her thinking. These interactive sessions generating no holds barred discussions with the coach result in improved self-awareness; at the same time, active listening, understanding and encouragement from the coach help the coachees constantly raise the bar for themselves. Overall such an engagement helps a coachee get clarity, discover answers, pursue own goals, and thus achieve self-transformation for a more successful career and a happier life.

According to Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA),

  • The Mentor is a facilitator who works with either an individual or a group of people over an extended time period. The agenda is open and continues to evolve over the longer term.
  • In Coaching, the focus is on meeting very specific objectives within a set period of time. Coaching is mainly concerned with performance and the development of certain skills. There is usually a planned programme with a much shorter timeframe than in mentoring, so the learning goals are usually determined in advance.