The difference between mentoring and coaching

Updated: Aug 23

Mentoring and coaching are both great tools to help you to step up your game and become more competitive in your industry as well as for identifying your development needs in both personal and professional life. They each offer different things for your journey and can often be confused.

But how do you know which one is right for you?




What exactly is mentoring?


Mentoring provides a holistic approach to career and personal development with particular focus on relationship development between mentor and mentee over time. It helps develop self-awareness, focus, identify or enhance your skills and to grow your confidence through the imparting of advice. It is generally a more senior or experienced professional imparting this advice knowledge to someone in a more junior professional level or career stage. Mentors help develop skills that are not just relevant for the mentees in their present job, but also for the future.


  • Did you know studies show a boost in self-awareness & confidence for both mentors and mentees?

  • Did you know that the chances to get promoted are almost 5x higher for those participating in a mentoring program?

  • Did you know that mentoring has been proven to lead to higher compensation and overall more satisfaction & commitment towards one’s career?

  • Did you know that 2/3 of mentored women become mentors themselves?



What is the role of a mentor?


Mentors provide advice, share knowledge and recommendations based on their own professional and personal experiences. Mentors provide new ways of thinking and offer new perspectives. They assist in building new industry relationships and impart advice from a position of someone that has gone through the same challenges and situations. Meeting agendas are typically mentee generated with questions based on development rather than performance.


Mentors can work with mentees to help define their goals, analyse their current situation, identify the right strategies to reach those goals. They then work with the mentee and provide support to help the mentee take action toward achieving their goals. Mentees take responsibility and ownership for their development and learning, and the mentors help them to stay on track and focused. Mentors provide additional help overcoming obstacles.


Where can mentoring help?


Mentoring can help with many things including: work review, study plans, interview preparation, career strategy, guidance, expert consultation, and knowledge transfer. Specifically, a mentor helps mentees explore their career options, set development goals, develop new contacts and identify resources. In this way, a mentor serves as a professional advisor and role model for the mentees.




What exactly is coaching?


The field of coaching is diverse and covers many different areas of development.

The biggest and clearest difference between mentoring and coaching is that a coach or business coach will be specifically qualified in coaching or professional development and have direct expertise in the specific fields required by the coachee. Coaching is specific, highly structured, measurable and performance driven. And paid ;)


What is the role of a coach?


Coaches work with clients in a professional and collaborative process which can be seen as more transactional and one-off to address a specific skill or issue presented by the coachee. Specific business-focused coaches focus on various aspects of running a successful business for example, including sales targets, marketing strategies, communication skills, team building, leadership and more. Based on the assessment of the coachee, a coach will help formulate a plan or strategy, set targets and identify the steps required to achieve the desired results.


The agenda for each conversation is developed by both parties. Typically a coach will have expertise in the coachee’s desired area of growth. However, as a coach is not expected to have all the answers, their expertise could be diverse. Their focus is to improve performance of the coachee that impacts their present job or situation.


Mentoring at the female factor


Mentoring at the female factor combines a holistic development approach and experience sharing in a structured six-month program. We provide structure to keep you focused, our batches are shorter duration but highly encourage our mentees to continue with the program by applying for subsequent batches. This opens our community of mentors up further and allows them to seek advice on different areas of the mentee’s development journey. It also allows the relationships to continue to grow and develop (by giving you a little bit of a push ;)) which is also a vital part of the mentoring journey.


We are development not performance driven and our mentors have a wide variety of skills and expertise which can blend with the coaching category. This is typical of formal mentoring programs and relationships, where mentees and mentors allow themselves to have a more structured approach to set realistic expectations and gain mutual benefits.


Some of our mentors are also coaches and can bring some of the elements of coaching into your sessions.


And in case you’re wondering was consulting is


Consultancy is focused on developing organisational practices, processes and structure. It generally plays a more strategic role and is used to instigate and design programmes and change within an organisation.


Consultancy frequently involves expert advice about specific issues and organisational processes and consultants are often brought in to provide specific ‘solutions’ to business problems and needs. The consultant will lead the task/project/job for the organisation and may include imparting this knowledge on the client/employee, it is not the primary goal. They will provide advice, recommendations or a service after analysing your data.


For example, if you are looking for someone to help you develop code for your project or to help with user design… you are looking for a consultant.


Summarizing the difference between mentors, coaches and consultants


Mentors are experts who have been there, done that and can help provide advice with a focus on development.


Coaches are specific professionals who help with transactional, short-term goals and specific needs with a focus on performance.


One way to think of mentoring vs coaching is “to” vs “with”. Mentors will talk “with” mentees to discover what they are looking for, what they need support in, and how they are doing.

Coaches talk “to” their clients about their goals and steps to get there.



Still not sure what you need?


As part of the inner circle at the female factor, you can arrange a sparring call to talk through your goals and needs and we point you in the right direction.


Read through these examples:

I want to transition into the IT industry and talk about areas I can upskill, and get advice from someone in the industry – you want a mentor.
I want to assess the technical areas I need to improve in, have an expert review my CV and prep me for interviews, or get advice on how to learn coding languages – you want a coach.
I want someone to tell me how to code this specific aspect of my IT project – you want a consultant.

Now that you are crystal clear about the differences between mentors, coaches and consultants and feel that a mentor is exactly the thing you are after check out our 150+ female factor industry expert mentors!

Our mentoring program runs for 6 months and is available exclusively to our female factor inner circle members.


Apply for up to three industry experts, submit your motivation letter and cross your fingers that you have convinced your preferred mentor to choose you!


PS: We provide assistance to match you if you are not chosen and have a 100% money back guarantee if you are unable to be matched.


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