What is the difference between a Coach, a Mentor and a Trainer?

Are you looking for some guidance, but not quite sure who you actually need?

Do you feel confused about the roles a Coach, a Mentor or a Trainer play?

You’re not alone. In fact, over 50% of people I talk to ask me the same questions.

These roles don’t have definite functions set in stone in our non-regulated industry – so their responsibilities can vary and often interchange depending on who you’re asking.

Nevertheless, it’s vital to have the right person to lead you towards moving forward and accomplishing your goals – both professionally and personally.

To help, here are my thoughts on the key differences between a Coach, a Mentor and a Trainer so you can determine which person you need.

What is a professional Coach?

A Coach is a person who asks you about your challenges and motivates you to find your own solutions to them, through their guidance and support.

The reality is, you can actually solve a lot of your own problems yourself – however the challenge is, you don’t think about it. You need someone there, actively listening, asking you questions and guiding you towards opening up your own thinking.

A professional Coach’s role is not to provide you with answers, but rather hold you accountable to make changes to improve your situation. This Coach provides you with a safe opportunity to reflect, explore and discover new things about yourself and the current situation you’re in.

Most importantly, they use their skills and processes to assist you in triggering your curiosity – motivating you to gain your own clarity and think differently when looking for solutions.

For example, you may ask a Coach to help you determine why you have a lack of confidence with your colleagues or why you hold yourself back.

When do you need a coach?

  • If you need a safe space for self-discovery
  • If you want to check your own internal voice
  • If you need someone to ask you the right questions to guide you along your self-growth journey
  • If you need a person who will encourage you to move forward on your own

Remember, a Coach is only your guide. The responsibility for your growth and development still lies with you – not with the Coach.

If you truly want to evolve and grow, you need to commit to the changes yourself.

What is a Mentor?

A Mentor, on the other hand, can be referred to as a professional consultant.

Unlike a Coach, this person offers you strategies and solutions to your challenges based on their own experiences. Since a Mentor has a shared understanding of what you’re going through, they can ask you more leading questions and provide you with answers.

For example, you may hire a business Mentor who has started their own business to help you do the same.

When do you need a Mentor?

  • If you need someone who can relate to your situation
  • If you need to consult a person who can provide real-life stories and examples
  • If you need to know what to do next

With a Mentor, learning comes not just on your own, but through this person’s experiences as well. Hence, the responsibility for development is born by both parties.

What is a Trainer?

Lastly, a trainer is someone who transfers their knowledge to you through teaching, demonstrating technique, or providing instructions about how to accomplish something.

Similar to a Mentor, this person provides answers and solutions to help you achieve your goals. A Trainer, however, hasn’t necessarily lived the same experience as yours, but has studied and broadened their knowledge to help you move forward.

For example, seeking out a Trainer to show you how to use accounting software.

When do you need a Trainer?

  • If you want someone to instruct you, instead of asking too many questions
  • If you want a direct solution to your challenges
  • If you have a gap in your understanding that you need filled by a specialist

Keep in mind that when you work with a Trainer, the responsibility for providing answers or solutions to your needs is carried by them.

Coach vs Mentor vs Trainer: Who should you choose?

These three roles have different styles of guiding you towards fulfilling your goals and objectives. It all depends on your circumstances and what approach you believe will best suit your need for growth.

In summary:

Way of approaching your challenges:
Coach “Let me ask you how you believe you could do this, so you can create your own solutions to get this done.”
Mentor “Let me share with you how I did this, so you can use this technique to get it done.”
Trainer “Let me tell you how to do this, so you can get it done.”

Whether you choose a Coach, a Mentor or a Trainer, you’ll have someone there to assist you.

But if you want to pursue self-growth and self-discovery, having a Coach is the best option. This person will allow you to feel empowered by pushing you to find your own solutions and take your own course of action.

Stop standing still and work towards your goals

I’m Claire – a professional Leadership and Development Coach who helps Leaders and Business owners build and solidify their confidence.

Let’s have a chat today to discover how we can help you make progress and achieve success in life.

Book a free 45-minute consultation today and we can start discussing your needs.

Let’s talk

Stop Standing Still

Sparking awareness. Facilitating development. Achieving growth.

Sydney, Australia
0402 075 511


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