Coaching Distinctions

Lani Rasmussen,
i2i Head of Leadership and Coaching explains...

Ricocheting from court to court, the whole ball about coaching may leave you jumbled and confused. What is coaching exactly? And how is it different from things like Mentoring, Training, Consulting, and Counselling?




Mentoring involves a unique, individually-defined relationship developed on agreed terms. It happens between a knowledgeable, experienced party (the Mentor) who has excellent networks and relevant advice, and a rookie party (the Protégé) who seeks to acquire the mentor’s knowledge, desires introduction to those networks, and seeks the Mentor’s personal advice. Mentors share their beliefs and help shape the goals and ambitions of their protégés. When you are being told about someone’s own experiences and success, and being introduced to specific networks that further your ambitions, you are being Mentored.





Training occurs during a one-way exchange of pre-determined information—the trainer imparts specific skills onto delegates, and tells them exactly how to achieve mastery of those skills. Training helps mould and shape a delegate’s existing abilities to help them become more effective or efficient in certain behaviours, whether visible or not (such as NLP training where it all happens in the mind.) When you are being told how to learn a new skill, or how to adjust your existing skill set, you are being Trained.



Consultants exude confidence in their chosen field for good reason—they are professional problem-solvers in a specific area of expertise. Their massive experience lends exposure to a variety of situations and first-hand education—both literally and scholastically—that allows them to assess a challenging problem and offer advice on the best way to overcome that challenge. Consultants are usually chosen for their practical, real-life, hands-on experience from being in a similar situation with a similar client. When you share a problem or goal and someone tells you how best to reach that goal or solve that problem, you are being Consulted.


With unconditional positive regard, a counsellor offers a safe place to explore you, any part of yourself. Mostly counselling is associated with ‘processing’ something and moving on, or making ‘right’ an imbalance from the past, or coping with an existing situation. These explorations generally revolve around emotional issues and aim to help a person feel better about something, whether it be a disappointment from the past or confronting a difficult current circumstance. It’s about ending patterns and behaviours that do not serve you. When you explore freely with someone, without a set objective other than feeling better, you being Counselled.




Coaching pools together the best of all of these worlds, with a few spins of its own. Like the Mentor, it’s a uniquely defined relationship with a shared interest—the COACHEE. A coach completely commits to the coachee’s agenda. Similar to Training, coaching involves focussing on enhancing the performance of a coachee—using the coachee’s existing skill set. A coach assists the coachee in finding their own ways to develop desired abilities. Parallel to Consulting, coaching uses a structured environment to reach a specific goal—a goal that is 100% coachee-defined. A coach believes that the coachee is their own best consultant, that they are the experts on themselves. Lastly, counselling and coaching both offer environments with absolute positive regard for the coachee—a safe place to explore and speak their truth. A coach provides a non-judgemental environment free of advice, patronisation, guilt, or ‘shoulds.’



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