Business Coaching and Mentoring In The Spotlight

Image of Alice Ackroyd, Leadership & HR Associate

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

- C S Lewis

Coaching and mentoring both exist for the same purpose: helping individuals grow, develop and unlock their potential. 

Both coaching and mentoring can provide an array of benefits for organisations of all sizes, including small or medium businesses. When conducted in an efficient and productive manner, coaching and mentoring can deliver improvements in leadership, conflict resolution, personal confidence, attitudinal change, motivation, and communication skills.

Coaching and Mentoring – Aren’t they the same thing?

The two frequently get grouped together, making it feel like an ‘either or’ decision for organisations.

In actual fact they aren’t worlds apart and both are great methods for developing individuals!

They both rely on good rapport, and they hold similar values at their core, that people can and will develop given the right conditions.

The similarities are many, in both there is;

  • Trust between both parties
  • A desire to develop
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Developing self-awareness
  • Discussion of goals
  • Exposure to new ways of thinking
  • Skill development
  • Focus on career progression
  • The unlocking of someone’s potential


BUT there are a few differences;

One professional coach posed the question – who has the gold?

And the answer –

‘A mentor holds the gold, they have the experience, expertise and network and share their gold with the mentee

Whereas a coach believes the coachee has the gold within and helps them unlock their gold!’

So a mentor has knowledge experience and expertise that is relevant to the mentee and can share this in a productive, insightful, and supportive way.

A coach may also have direct experience or expertise but focusses on helping the coachee find solutions for themselves, to grow their learning mindset and improve their skills or performance in their current role.

In our SME world we often find ourselves mentoring at business leader or owner level and coaching at manager level.

Which leads us into the differences:


Coaching is a partnership that helps the individual work out what they need to do themselves to improve, and in the process, what motivates them and what might get in their way (attitudes, preconceptions, assumptions). Coaching can help an individual develop their interpersonal skills, see the bigger picture more clearly, handle conflict or deal with the impact of change. It can also develop their skills in leadership, self-management and learning, and increase resilience and self-awareness.

A coach will assist, challenge and encourage rather than direct or teach, this helps to improve confidence and importantly an individuals effectiveness as a leader or line manager.


Mentoring describes a relationship in which a more experienced person shares their knowledge and tends to be a longer-term partnership due to its personal and informal nature. The role of a mentor is to listen, learn, and advise. It is about pointing their mentee in the right direction and aiding their career development. In a succession planning scenario for example a senior manager may be mentored over a length of time as they learn how to deal with the issues they currently or will or face as a Director.

Due to the personal nature of mentoring, a mentor will often draw on their own experiences and expertise. This could be for example sharing a story that has taught them a valuable lesson, or a challenge that they overcame in their career.

Those with mentors are likely to feel inspired and motivated to progress in their careers.


So, which is best for my business?  Well, that depends on the problem you’re trying to fix

Is there a need for expertise and insight, to help someone develop in their chosen field or grapple with the demands of their role, then mentoring may help. Or is there a need to build the skills and knowledge of your managers to improve their effectiveness, then training and coaching may be the solution.

Quite often coaching works in tandem with more formal training programmes, where knowledge and skills are developed and practiced before implementation, a great coach can then help with application of learning.  Whereas mentoring can support specialists or business owners develop their expertise in their chosen field.

Once you understand the similarities and differences between coaching and mentoring, you can see how they are able to complement each other as development practices.

By investing in coaching and mentoring of your leadership team, you can create a culture of learning and development within your organisation that has people at its core.

It is a journey where the process of learning is as important as the knowledge and skills gained” (Zeus and Skiffington, 2000)

To help you understand which might best for your business, we’ve created a handy downloadable matrix to demonstrate both the differences and overlap between them. Simply click the download button below to receive your FREE copy!

Business Coaching and Mentoring Matrix

How to get started

Before you make the decision as to whether your business should invest in coaching or mentoring, it’s important to be clear about the learning needs and objectives of the individuals involved to choose the right approach.

Then comes the preparation phase which may include conducting personality profiling and analysis of previous performance reviews/appraisal to identify the areas for focus and development. On the back of this a personalised action plan and schedule will be proposed and agreed before the programme begins.

Starting a coaching, mentoring, and complementary management development program for your business enables leadership development at scale. At 360, we’re committed to providing our clients with the best coaching and mentoring experience for their employees. We believe that focusing on individual growth not only empowers the individual, but also drives business growth.

If you would like to know more about 360 Growth Partners and how we could support your business, then please get in touch and let’s start the conversation