Coaching, Guiding, Teaching, Mentoring, Sponsoring – the Differences

Filed Under (NLP life coaching) on 01-06-2019

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People often interchange coaching and counselling, but I already wrote about that. This time I’ll clarify the differences between another few types of support. They all help people to change, grow, and evolve at different levels. Hence they are similar and also share overlaps. But how are they different? What are the differences between coaching, guiding, teaching, mentoring, sponsoring, and awakening?


Guiding and caretaking provide support on the level of environment in which change takes or is to take place. Guiding is directing a person from where s/he is to where s/he wants to be. Hence guiding presupposes that the guide has been there and knows the best way or at least a way to the desired state. Caretaking or being a custodian means providing a safe supportive environment by attending to the external context.  Caretaking also ensures that what’s necessary is available and there’re no unnecessary interferences or distractions.


Coaching is helping a person to perform at the peak of his/her abilities. Personal coaching methods are derived from sports training. They promote awareness of resources and abilities and develop conscious competence. The methods in coaching draw out a person’s strengths due to careful observation and feedback. They also enable the person to function as part of a team. An effective coach observes a person’s behaviour and gives tips and guidance on how to improve in specific contexts and situations. Coaching therefore emphasizes generative change and concentrates on defining and achieving specific goals.


Teaching helps a person to develop cognitive skills and capabilities. The goal of teaching is generally to help people to increase competencies and thinking skills relevant to an area of learning.  Teaching focuses on acquiring general cognitive abilities rather than on particular performances in specific situations. Teaching helps a person to develop strategies for thinking and acting. The emphasis of teaching is more on new learning than on refining previous performance.

Beliefs and values

Mentoring is guiding a person to discover his/her competencies and overcome internal resistances and interferences. A mentor  believes in the person and validates his/her positive intentions. A mentor helps to positively shape or influence a person’s beliefs and values by resonating with, releasing, or unveiling the person’s wisdom often through the mentor’s example. The person often internalizes mentoring, hence the external presence of a mentor will not be necessary forever. People can carry inner mentors for many situations.


Sponsoring is recognising and acknowledging the essence or identity of a person or group. Sponsoring involves seeking and safeguarding potential within others, focusing on the development of identity and core values. Effective sponsoring results from commitment to the promotion of something within a person or group which is not being manifested to full capacity.  Sponsoring accomplishes this by constantly sending messages such as “I see you. You’re valuable. You’re important/special/unique. And you’re welcome. You belong here. You have something to contribute.”.  A good sponsor creates a context in which others can act, grow, and excel. Sponsors provide the conditions, contacts, and resources that allow the sponsored person or group to focus on, develop, and use their abilities and skills.

Beyond identity – the grand scheme of things

Awakening goes beyond coaching, teaching, mentoring, and sponsoring. It includes the realm of mission, vision, and spirit. An awakener supports a person by providing contexts and experiences which bring out the best in how the person understands love, self, and spirit. An awakener awakens through his/her integrity and congruence. Awakeners also put people in touch with their missions and visions by being in full contact with their missions and visions.

Coaching and the differences

I’m a coach, but have been a teacher, mentor, sponsor, and awakener. A good coach will be flexible to switch to the role that is most called for at the right time. If you have been looking for a coach who has the flexibility to guide you through what you need to learn, teach you to learn it, mentor and sponsor you on the way to awakening, let’s have a conversation.

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