Do You Need A Coach Or A Mentor?

Here Is How You Tell The Difference

Kim Regis
3 min readFeb 23, 2021

“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” — Zig Ziglar

These words resonated with me as I read an article by Kelli Richards in Forbes that can be found by clicking HERE. The advice she offered rang true for me and is what I share when it comes to deciding if you need a coach or a mentor.

The success that I have had in my career is the combination of hard work, great mentors, and coaches. My mentors and coaches were not always the same people, although sometimes there was overlap. It can be confusing and that is why I am here to help.

The dreams that I had for myself were big. Or so I thought. In reality, my dreams were bigger than what I saw around me, but I was capable of even more. My thinking was limited by my environment. If you only know so much or see so much then you may not believe that the sky is the limit or that you can reach the mountaintop. I did not know my dreams were small. To me, I was trying to grasp the impossible. Graduating from college for example, was a big and scary thing for me. It is only now that I realize, part of my fear was rooted in the fact that it was really a dream. I had no strategy at all.

The Context

When I was dreaming of going to college, having an important job, and making a difference in the world, I had no idea of how to actually do it. The context matters of course. I was young, I was mapping this journey with very little knowledge of how to do it. Context, offers no excuse, instead an opportunity.

I was fortunate. When I was young most of my mentors invited themselves into my life by developing natural, trusting relationships with me. These people were teachers, clergy, family friends, sports coaches, and community leaders that saw something in me and wanted me to succeed.

The more I “succeeded” the responsibility for seeking mentors and developing trusting relationships became my own. Some relationships developed organically, but it happened less often. This is where the question entered in for me and maybe you to. Do I need a mentor or do I need a coach?

The simple answer is YES! You need both.

Why you ask? Check out this infographic for clarity.

Coaching vs. Mentoring

They Have Different Purposes

Mentoring and coaching have many things in common. Both provide support and encouragement. A mentor is often an expert in their field and has knowledge to share that is beneficial to the development and growth of their mentee. Where mentoring differs is that a mentor may or may not have training in coaching methods or psychology specifically; the focus of the relationship is also different (see above).

Coaching can offer the same level of expertise and knowledge as a mentor. If your coach is professionally trained, there is even more they can offer. Using my coaching practice as an example, I am both certified as a coach and intentionally studied Industrial and Organizational Psychology with a focus on culture to inform and support my methods. TRANSFORMATION is the focus for the client. When you get coaching your goals are not a wish or a dream. Having a coach is an opportunity to focus and strategically move in the direction you want to go.

The investment in coaching also includes a financial aspect. The saying goes, “where your treasure is, your heart will follow”. Coaching is truly an investment in what matters to you and your future. It is a step that people take when they are willing to do what it takes to get extraordinary results and set themselves apart from the crowd.

Final Words

I am a coach. I provided mentoring in this article by sharing information on a topic that I have some expertise in. The overlap is a real thing, so do not be hard on yourself if you get confused about what you need. If you have questions or need clarity seek answers. The coaching philosophy is:

“You have what it takes inside of you”



Kim Regis

Kim is a certified coach and leader with over 20 years of experience. Her passion is leading others toward unlocking their full potential.