[CAREER NEWS] Coaching or Mentoring: which should you choose?

There are many reasons you might question the direction your career is taking, whether it’s a search for meaning, fulfilment, recognition or new challenges. You might feel you need help or support in this situation, or perhaps you would just like someone to listen to you… The IÉSEG Network Career Development Services offers two useful services you can call on all year round to meet these needs: Coaching and Mentoring. But do you know the difference between them and how each in their own way can advance your career? Read on to find out what defines them and the differences between them…

There are many things that might prompt you to question where your career is going, whether it’s a search for meaning, fulfilment, recognition or new challenges. In this situation you might feel the need for help, support or even just someone to listen to you… The IÉSEG Network Career Development Services has two great services you can call on all year round for help: Coaching and Mentoring. But do you know the difference between them, and how each in its own way can advance your career?

The terms Coaching and Mentoring have similar characteristics and can therefore sometimes be confused… However, there are important differences between these two systems.

Let’s begin by defining them.

To simplify this article, it was decided to approach the relationship between Coaching and Mentoring through the prism of individual support.

What is coaching?

The term Coaching refers to supporting a person using tools and principles to help them achieve their goals within a specific period of time and in a rigorous and structured manner. Coaching promotes awareness in the person being coached, improves performance and gets them moving.

The basic principle of Coaching is that the person being coached finds the answers to their own problems from within themselves. The coach should therefore not give advice or express an opinion on what their client needs to do to achieve their goal.

However, the Coach should use their listening skills and maieutics (questioning techniques) to help the person being coached find their own answers from within, to let go of certain beliefs, release the brakes or clear blockages and think about their situation from another angle, to eventually adopt new ways of behaving ...

By asking these questions, the person being coached can calmly make advances and achieve things they have not previously been able to achieve, through their own choices, actions and decisions.

Coaching support should take place in a secure, non-judgmental environment and in a kind and strictly confidential manner. These elements are the constituent parts of the ethics of being a Coach.

One of the conditions for successful Coaching lies in the quality of the relationship that is forged between the Coach and their client and specifically in the relationship of trust that is established between them.

The main qualities of a professional coach are: being available for his client, an excellent quality of presence, a great capacity for listening and discernment, being a people person, being supportive etc.

Coaching is a form of professional and personal development which should promote the autonomy of the person being coached throughout the process and should not create a dependence on the coach. Each individual being coached is autonomous and responsible for their own progress and results.

The coach has an obligation to use their best efforts, but not to achieve a specific result. Indeed, if the person being coached does not want to advance, they will not advance even if the coach makes every effort to help get them do so.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is an English word which means Tutoring. It is a form of professional development that takes place with the help of an experienced professional commonly referred to as a mentor.

In general, the mentor will have a solid professional background because they have experience in a profession that has allowed them to gain in-depth knowledge, broaden their horizons and develop their strengths as well as acquire new skills, facing situations and complex issues in the field of work.

While a coach uses questioning techniques, a mentor gives advice and opens up a dialogue to share their knowledge.
Mentoring is successful when a positive and stimulating relationship based on shared values is established between the mentor and the person being mentored.

Mentoring is a learning experience for both the mentor and the person being mentored in the sense that the mentor gets as many, if not more, of the benefits as the person they are mentoring, including improving their own leadership skills, personal satisfaction and self-development.

Just like Coaches, Mentors support the people they are mentoring within a framework of strict confidentiality and they have a proven work ethic. They should have a strong capacity for listening and a deep desire to contribute to the development of others, so they feel invested in their role and have patience. The mentor is also a person to look up to who will act as an inspiration to their charge to help them move forward.

What are the main differences?

A person who gives Coaching is a coach, and must be certified. Although there is training for Mentoring, in the Mentoring process, the mentor does not necessarily need to have a specific certification. Most importantly, they must meet the expectations of the person being mentored and have experience and knowledge in the specific area(s) for which they have been taken on.

Unlike Coaching, which takes place in a very structured and rigorous framework, Mentoring programs are informal: they have no particular structure or time limit. The frequency and agenda of meetings between the mentor and the person they are mentoring are left to their discretion.

When it comes to the approach, Coaching focuses on achieving results, while Mentoring focuses on how to behave in the professional and career world.

In other words, in Coaching the goal is to promote awareness and advancement so that the person being coached achieves certain goals and objectives that they have set for themselves. In Mentoring, the emphasis is more on the transfer of knowledge and expertise to achieve the goal of developing the personal and professional skills of the person being mentored. Thus, Mentoring can be inspired by Coaching strategies, but not the reverse.
In Coaching, the role of the coach is mainly to listen and ask questions (and contrary to what many people think, is not there to give answers! ☺). The coach creates the necessary space for their client to think and talk as much as possible. Conversely, in Mentoring, the mentor, although listening, is the one who does the most speaking and sharing.


You can see that Coaching and Mentoring are similar: they both aim to support people in achieving their goals and developing their potential, but using different approaches and harnessing the experience of either the coach or the mentor as the case may be.
Coaching and Mentoring are extremely effective methods of support to develop your career, improve your employability and increase your performance.
As a result of this article, you can now tell them apart and choose the Coaching and Mentoring process that best suits your needs.

The IÉSEG Network Career Development Services provides both Coaching and Mentoring throughout the year. I carry out Executive coaching, so for any request for personalised Coaching support, just contact me by email or phone so that we can timetable a session: e.toucas@ieseg.fr or

For information on Mentoring (Graduate to Graduate), whether you want to be mentored or become a mentor to another graduate, you can also contact me: e.toucas@ieseg.fr or

Finally, if you want information on the annual IÉSEG Network Mentoring program (Graduate to Student and Graduate to Graduate), the information will be available on our website from next week.

Elizabeth TOUCAS – Executive Strengths Coach & Career Manager – IÉSEG Network

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