“Every great achiever is inspired by a great mentor.” ~ Lailah Gifty Akita

Are you a mentor or are you a coach? For some people, this question appears to be “splitting hairs”,’ because they refer to themselves as both a mentor and a coach.  The terms are also used interchangeably by many.

The exact distinction appears to be elusive, so you may also find other thoughts on the topic.

What is Mentoring

Mentoring is a process through which an individual offers professional expertise as well as support to a less experienced colleague. A mentor serves as a teacher, counselor, and advocate to a mentee. Mentoring results in a mutually beneficial professional relationship over time.

Wikipedia defines mentoring as, a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé).

From the above definitions, it’s clear that a mentor is one who is a step or two on the ladder above the person whom he or she is supporting, usually referred to as the protégé, and is therefore able to offer suggestions, advice, and create strategies to move the protégé forward in whatever area of life he or she is qualified to give support.

Types of Mentors

Unlike a coach, a mentor is not always paid.  In fact, many times the person who is considered a mentor is not even aware that she holds this position for the other person.  A mentor can inspire and motivate you by means of blog posts, podcasts, articles, webinars, and other online or offline methods.

There are, however, formal mentoring relationships that are structured around specific times and schedules as in a coaching arrangement.  For a business mentor, these are designed to work with the mentee by sharing information, strategies, and techniques that will contribute to her business development and or personal growth.

Mentoring - Photograph by Yusuf Evli on Unplash

Why is Mentoring Valuable?

As explained previously, a mentor is also someone who’s an expert or at least has a lot more knowledge on a topic that the mentee has so that she can help the mentee to achieve the level of success that he or she seeks.

Why is mentoring valuable?

Martin Zwilling reviewed the book by Ken Blanchard, “One Minute Mentoring”. He listed six key action steps in the mentoring process.

My favorite points or steps are:

  • Build and maintain a trusting partner relationship
  • Create opportunities for the mentee to grow.
    **That should always be the goal of the mentor. This is accomplished by the value of the information shared and its relevance to the needs of the mentee.
  • Regularly review progress and adjust focus.
    **As a mentor, it's important to re-evaluate, on a regular basis, what is being delivered and the results, in order to ensure that the guidance provided is giving him or her the best results.


Mr. Zwilling also noted that the significant difference he found between mentoring and coaching was that, in his view, coaches focus on bringing out the best in an individual’s generic skills, while a mentor adds the element of sharing information about the industry, company, or business unit that the mentor believes is relevant to the mentee.

Build Relationships Through Mentoring

Getting the most out of life isn’t about how much you keep for yourself, but how much you pour into others. ~ David Stoddard

One of the most effective was to build relationships through mentoring is to look for ways to promote your mentees and become their advocate.

Since a mentor is one someone who can see within you more talent and ability than you see in yourself and helps bring it out of you, how do you view mentoring.  Even mentors and coaches have mentors and coaches.

Are you a mentor and do you have a mentor who lifts you up higher and sees more in you than you see in yourself?

If you have questions, go ahead and place them in the comments.  I read and reply to each comment. Or you may visit this page and click on the link. I will reply to you within 24 hours. You may also like the free Special Report, “Relationship Marketing” Key to Small Business Success.

Thank you for reading.



Photo credits:
Photograph by Haley Phelps on Unsplash
Photograph by Yusuf Evli on Unplash

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Yvonne A Jones
Yvonne A Jones

I am Yvonne A Jones, Business, and Life Coach | Relationship Marketing Strategist.

    2 replies to "What is the Role of a Mentor in Business?"

    • Great information, I guess I never really thought about the mentoring side. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for clarifying the difference between mentoring and coaching. Although a fine line, there is a line and one not lightly taken. I’ve learned a lot from this post on mentoring and plan to share with other women who may not know the difference either.

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