Comparison between a Mentor and a Coach

Picture comparing apples to oranges


Both mentors and coaches are experts. The terms mentor and coach are often used interchangeably because both can do many of the same things.

For most people, the major difference between the two roles is that a coach is paid for their feedback and advice while a mentor is not paid.

The following table illustrates the other major differences between these two roles.

  Mentor Coach
Focus The focus is on the relationship, benefiting both parties professionally and personally and delivering a better ROI to the business Transferring skills and knowledge to the person being coached to allow them to accomplish a specific task
Role Expert in many business areas who can provide seasoned advice and feedback Enabler who sets an agenda to meet specific goals
Scope of role Business in all its aspects Business task related
Company relationship May be a member of the staff Hired for specific task with no management responsibility
Source of influence Skill set, expertise, experience and willingness to form relationships Position as advisor with experience and specific skill sets aimed at solving specific problems
Source of satisfaction Improving individual's chances of success and the opportunity to give back Better teamwork, performance, and results
Term Long term over months and years. Contracts are seldom used Short term over days, weeks, or months usually by contract
Hiearchy No reporting to the mentee's immediate manager May report to individual's management
Affect on organization May change the company's culture Has little affect on a company's overall organization


The folks at Management Mentors have produced a very nice white paper comparing mentoring and coaching.

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