The Difference Between Coaching and Other Disciplines

Coaching, managing, mentoring, consulting, and training sometimes overlap in action but at their foundation, they are distinct in their focus of attention.  These approaches are regarded as complementary rather than mutually exclusive.


The Coach’s primary attention is on amplifying the client’s wisdom, thought processes, and directed action, based on the client’s self-identified agenda.  A supportive and non-judgmental environment is created in which to inquire challenge and stimulate further critical thinking and generate new ways of thinking acting and being, often resulting in new behaviors that are applicable to the client’s whole life.


The Manager’s primary attention is on achieving specific organizational results through their direct reports.  To that end, they will tell and direct their direct reports and/or many develop them through performance feedback where coaching skills may be used.


The Mentor’s primary attention is on imparting their wisdom to a less experienced individual by taking an active interest in their career development.  A less experienced individual learns from someone who is literally and/or metaphorically older and wiser and has worn the same shoes and traveled a similar career path.


A consultant’s primary attention is on achieving organizational results through the application of their specific expertise from which they implement processes or advise the client on the best course of action for achieving their organizational goals.  They may or may not also be charged with transferring knowledge or a skill set to their client.


A training and development professional’s primary attention is the successful transfer of specific information or skills to their clients.  The trainer may well use a co-active approach and coaching skills.