High performing professionals seek a variety of resources to accelerate their growth and advancement in the workplace. Oftentimes these resources also benefit the personal life, mental health and other aspects of a professional’s life and career. This is important as people rise in responsibility as it gets lonelier at the top.

While developing your career and business path, the phrase “It takes a village…” is applicable here. In my work, I think of it as surrounding yourself with a team—and I encourage all my clients to identify their “chosen team” at every step throughout their life and career or business development. These resources are sometimes provided by your organization or company. And some you need to contract them on your own. Sometimes they are short-term or episodic relationships, and some can be very long term relationships spanning over many years. It’s possible to have all three at the same time if the feedback or learning is not in conflict, and if time allows.

Since there is a lot of overlap between three main resources, 1) mentoring, 2) training and 3) coaching, let’s break out the core differences you should consider when working with these resources.

1) Mentoring

Mentoring can be a short or long-term relationship. A typical mentor is typically someone further along in your field. An example of short-term mentorship is often in the on-boarding process within a company. A new professional or someone new to a role may be partnered with someone who can “show them the ropes.”

More robust mentorship is for professional advice, guidance and sometimes even sponsorship along a career development path. The best mentorships I’ve witnessed are a relationship developed with a high-level professional who is in another business unit or another company altogether. That way when you need advice on how to manage your manager or colleagues, you feel safe discussing the situation knowing the mentor relationship is confidential and private/non-conflictual. Some mentorships last for many years as you grow in your leadership. A mentor may also introduce you to a new position, role or opportunity.


2) Training

Just as with mentoring, training comes in a variety of forms. It can be a training module to onboard or advance skills provided by your company. You might also be encouraged to seek a variety of trainings (certifications, advanced degrees, etc.) which your company may pay for if it benefits your contribution.

A more advanced form of training within a larger company may include group/team education along with an in-house developmental coaching program. This is sometimes designed by the HR Head or department, sometimes with outside consultants. Providing such training helps an organization ensure the integration of company culture, values and attributes they wish to develop in their leadership team, who then role model and disseminate on down throughout the organization. Such training programs are typically very advanced and promote both business acumen as well as emotional intelligence/relational skills.


3) Coaching

I am going to speak to Career Development Coaching and Business Development Coaching specifically since that is the coaching and consulting area I work in. In general, coaching defined by the International Coaching Federation, a major coaching training program is “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Career Coaching in my approach is a) uncovering a client’s strengths and characteristics, b) helping them clarify what they wish to achieve in their career development, c) outlining a step-by-step path to achieve their career aspirations and d) guiding them to attainment of those goals—be it acquiring next level education, landing a new position or upleveling within their current company.

Career coaching can begin any time from undergraduate level on. For high performers who wish to excel in a business or organization this coaching becomes leadership development, matching high-level interpersonal skills and business capabilities with actionable outcomes.

Leaders, Business Owners and C-Suite Executives may have a long-term working partnership with a coach/business consultant who guides their growth and that of the business over many years as they achieve their aspirations. These long-term relationships often transition to a  Trusted Advisor role as the Leader or Executive succeeds in the role they aspire to and the business growth success desired, and begins to look to life beyond as they plan an exit in the imminent or distant future.



Dr. Jan Hoistad