Do You Have A Mentor?

A mentor is a trusted counselor, a wise, loyal, and supportive guide, an adviser, or a coach.
Think Twice Before You Do A Media Interview

Mentoring in Berlin


Learn how a mentor can support you. A mentor is a trusted counselor, a wise, loyal, and supportive guide, an adviser, or a coach. 

Differences between coaching and mentoring



Coaching (and training)


Coaching and training is more task oriented. The focus is on concrete issues, such as managing more effectively, speaking more articulately, and learning how to think strategically. This requires an expert who is capable of teaching the coachee how to develop these skills.

A coach can successfully be involved with a coachee for a short period, maybe even just a few sessions. Coaching lasts for as long as is needed, depending on the purpose of the coaching relationship.

The purpose of coaching is to improve the individual’s performance on the job. This involves either enhancing current skills or acquiring new skills. Once the coachee successfully acquires the skills, the coach is no longer needed.

Coaching can be conducted almost immediately on any given topic. If a company seeks to provide coaching to a large group of individuals, then certainly an amount of design is involved in order to determine the competency area, expertise needed, and assessment tools used, but this does not necessarily require a long lead-time to actually implement the coaching program.

The coachee’s immediate manager may be a critical partner in coaching. He or she often provides the coach with feedback on areas in which his or her employee is in need of coaching.





Mentoring is more relationship oriented. It seeks to provide a safe environment where the mentoree shares whatever issues affect his or her professional and personal success. Although specific learning goals or competencies may be used as a basis for creating the relationship, its focus goes beyond these areas to include things, such as work and life balance, self-confidence, self-perception, and how the personal influences the professional.

Mentoring requires time to be successful. It takes time in which both partners can learn about one another and build a climate of trust that creates an environment in which the mentoree can feel secure in sharing the real issues that impact his or her success. Successful mentoring relationships last nine months to a year.

The purpose of mentoring is to develop the individual not only for the current job but also for the future. This distinction differentiates the role of the immediate manager and that of the mentor. It also reduces the possibility of creating conflict between the employee’s manager and the mentor.

Mentoring requires a design phase in order to determine the strategic purpose for mentoring, the focus areas of the relationship, the specific mentoring models, and the specific components that will guide the relationship.




When to consider coaching and when mentoring?


The common thread uniting all types of coaching and mentoring is that these services offer a vehicle for analysis, reflection, and action that ultimately enable the client to achieve success in one more area of their life or work.



When to consider coaching



  • To develop specific competencies
  • Talented individuals want to work on an issue because they don’t meet the own or company expectations
  • To learn how to deal with a new role like additional responsibility



When to consider mentoring



  • When a company is seeking to develop its leaders or talent pool as part of succession planning
  • Long-term process to remove barriers that hinder success
  • Access to the network of the mentor is helpful




Do you have a mentor?


A mentor is a trusted counselor, a wise, loyal, and supportive guide, an adviser, or even a coach.

Nearly every successful leader can point to a mentor who played a significant role. There are many examples how important a mentor can be. The term “mentor” comes from The Odyssey. Odysseus asked his friend Mentor to help watch over his son Telemachus while Odysseus was away at the Trojan War. Mentorship has been around since before Socrates mentored Plato who mentored Aristotle who mentored Alexander the Great.

If I hadn’t had mentors, I wouldn’t be here today. The guidance I received from experienced men and women has made an enormous difference in my life. Intelligence is learning from experiences and I don’t have to make every mistake by myself. Others have seen the issues, made the mistakes, and learned the lessons ahead of us. Search for role models you can look up to and people who take an interest in you. If we simply take the time to ask them, they’re often happy to share what they’ve learned.

In mentoring, the immediate manager is indirectly involved. Although she or he may offer suggestions to the employee on how to best use the mentoring experience or may provide a recommendation to the matching committee on what would constitute a good match, the manager has no link to the mentor and they do not communicate at all during the mentoring relationship. This helps maintain the mentoring relationship’s integrity.

Just ask me personally

Let's get into a conversation. Please post any questions that may interest other readers in the comments. If you are interested in coaching or training, for personal questions about that and appointments you can reach me by e-mail (, phone +49(0)30 864 213 68 and mobile phone +49(0)1577 704 53 56. You can also use this contact form. Please read the information about the privacy policy.


Karsten Noack

I have read and accept the privacy policy.


In the address bar of your browser, the URL should begin with "". This indicates a secure connection (SSL). Whether you enter your real name is up to you.



Do you have a mentor?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

When you submit this form, it will save the used name, email address, and content. Find out more in the privacy policy.

This article is a short excerpt of the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in group or individual training or coaching.

First published: March 21, 2001
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: April 3, 2018
Translation: April 3, 2009
German version: