Mentor, Coach, Sponsor: Who are They and Why You Should Have One of Each

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Coach Meaning and it’s difference from Mentor and Sponsor

This year alone, while writing this coaching blog, I’ve attended over 40 local and international workshops, webinars, trainings, panel discussions, and networking events on topics such as emotional intelligence, diversity and inclusion, Thriving workplace cultures, the meaning of coaching and mentoring, and entrepreneurship.

Most people I’ve encountered are either looking for work, changing jobs, looking for the next gig, figuring out how to get a promotion, or moving ahead.

These people know that having a mentor, coach, and/ or sponsor will be a great resource and one of the best ways to achieve their goal fastest. Do they need coaching? I wholeheartedly say yes!

However, there’s still some confusion about the differences between coaching and mentoring and sponsoring, and what they can and cannot help with. 

So, here’s a short, simple overview:


  • What: A mentor answers questions for you about a particular topic in which they are the experts.

  • Best for: Any specific situation, topic, or issue you might not be an expert in and require specific input. You learn from the experiences of the mentor.

  • Note: A mentor does not always need to be older than you. Check out Reverse Mentoring.


  • What: You are your own expert and in coaching sessions you will answer questions the coach skillfully asks, to help you realize your own potential and provide your own solutions.

  • Best for: You’ll need coaching for any situation where you require clarity, an accountability partner, a challenge to move forward, or help to define next steps.

  • Note: Coaches don’t provide answers. They help you find answers in you. Coaching is meant to be a holistic approach, i.e. you’ll be concentrating on the development of you as a whole person, not just one problem, which has a more sustainable, empowering outcome.


  • What: The sponsor promotes you to others.

  • Best for: Having an ally to lift you up, promote you in order to give you visibility and exposure at a level you might not (yet) have access to.

  • Note: This could be as simple as your university professor, your current boss, someone at a charity organization you volunteered with, etc. However, it’s always someone with significantly more authority or influence in an area you’d like to gain access to.

Anybody, at any stage during their career, can significantly benefit from having either a mentor, coach, sponsor, or any combination of them.

There are also significant benefits to be gained by being a mentor, coach, or sponsor yourself. With your skills, experience, and training, you serve the person who needs coaching, mentoring, or sponsoring by helping to lift them up. You do this mainly because:

  • you believe in the person,

  • it may be your profession (i.e. professional coach), or

  • you see it as a learning opportunity for yourself, and/or it aligns with your personal strengths and passions.

It could also be a mix of these three.

As a mentee, coachee, or sponsored person, you learn, overcome obstacles, network, have an improved mindset, move forward, and triumph.  

Here is a challenge for you! Which one will you choose?

A. What small step will you do this week to invest in yourself and get a mentor, coach, or sponsor?

B. What small step will you do this week to help other people to Thrive by being their mentor, coach, or sponsor?

Coaching blogs help your search for the coach meaning, now experience it personally by booking your first coaching session.

On a personal note, while in leadership roles over the past years, I’ve sought out opportunities to help others and have had extensive mentoring experience. Recently, I started on my journey to formalize my coaching training. If you’re interested in Connecting to find out more and try out a free, confidential 30min coaching session, I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. We’re all in this together. Spread the love and share this coaching blog with people in your network who might benefit from it too. Thank you.