Coaching, Mentoring, Teaching, Counselling – The Difference?

Submitted 4 years ago by Dan Trepanier 

There are a lot of different definitions for coaching, almost as many as there are approaches. Coaching is defined as the art of facilitating the unleashing of people’s potential to reach meaningful, measurable goals. Coaching is oriented toward concrete impact and results; it is about helping the recipient, individual or team and the sponsor to articulate and achieve objectives.

coaching.jpg

We are often asked to define coaching and the difference between coaching, mentoring, teaching and counselling. Coaching is an interactive and developmental process where the coach enables the recipient or participant to find their own solutions, discover new opportunities, and implement actions. Coaching facilitates the opportunity for individuals to openly and safely sound-out ideas, concerns and scenarios, to better prepare them to alter behavior or map out various plans of action. The underlying principle for using coaching is that the participant will become better equipped, increase their ownership and ultimately their confidence, satisfaction, and performance.

The underlying principle for using coaching is that the participant will become better equipped, increase their ownership and ultimately their confidence, satisfaction, and performance.

There is a fair amount of confusion around teaching and counselling as well when discussing coaching and the application of the skills involved. Teaching is defined as the dissemination of information centered around a curriculum that trainees need to learn and apply to situations they encounter. It does not normally address the participants’ desires and challenges. Counselling differs from coaching in that it usually prescribes solutions.

Coaching is also an art. The art of choosing an effective approach in a given situation, of creatively combining technical tools, models, and perspectives to address specific challenges, and of devising innovative processes to serve the recipient’s needs. Technical experience alone is not sufficient to be an effective coach. Nor should one trust that just because someone is certified, they will provide excellent coaching. Coaching cannot be performed automatically or superficially. The art is combining years of diverse experiential learning, extensive theoretical study and practical experience with good listening and reflective skills. Intuition and synthetic intelligence are key competencies of great coaching.

There are a lot of similarities between coaching and mentoring. However, although leaders can act as coaches, often this role is confused with mentoring. Coaches act as facilitators while mentors give advice and recommendations. Coaches listen, ask questions, and enable those being coached discover what is right for their situation. Mentors talk about their own personal experience, assuming this is relevant for the individual being mentored while coaches provide frameworks to help coachees build their own support networks. Mentors often open doors and put their protégés in contact with key people. With experience, any leader can act as a mentor and offer advice and a hand up. It takes additional empathy, and skills to be a coach. Mentors can leverage their experience more effectively to the benefit of the person being mentored by learning how to coach, notably for building ownership and responsibility.

Attribution for the content in this box goes to http://www.cenera.ca Copyright © 2009 CENERA | (403) 290-0466

Related link: What is Mentoring?