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Exploring shared and distinctive aspects of coaching and mentoring approaches through six disciplines

Tina Salter (YMCA George Williams College, London, UK)
Judie M Gannon (Oxford School of Hospitality Management, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 1 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine where and how coaching and mentoring disciplines overlap or differ in approach. Coaching and mentoring have emerged as important interventions as the role of helping relationships have gained prominence in human resource development. However, there appear to be contexts where one or other is preeminent, without consistent explanation of their suitability. Such inconsistency arguably creates confusion and doubt about these interventions and their efficacy notably amongst those who commission such interventions and their potential beneficiaries. This study focuses on this inconsistency of coaching or mentoring by exploring practitioners’ approaches within six disciplines: executive coaches, coaching psychologists, sports coaches, mentors of leaders, mentors of newly qualified teachers and mentors of young people, with the aim of assisting those seeking support with development.


This exploratory study was undertaken using a qualitative methodology, where in-depth interviews were completed with experienced practitioners to elucidate their approaches and practice.


The findings show that approaches may be discipline-specific, where practitioners specialise in a particular type of coaching or mentoring requiring distinctive knowledge and/or skills. However, the sharing of good practice across disciplines and the value of understanding the common dimensions which emerged is also evident, providing clients and those who commission coaching and mentoring with reassurances regarding the nature of these helping relationships.

Research limitations/implications

As the research focused only on the practitioners’ experiences of their work in these disciplines, it is vital that the mentees’ and coachees’ experiences are captured in future research. There is also value in further exploration of the model developed.

Practical implications

By deploying the model concerned with the future development of these interventions suggests practitioners can expand their capacity and scope by adopting interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches.


By directly exploring the shared and distinctive approaches of coaching and mentoring practitioners in six contexts, this study provides opportunities to understand where practitioners can benefit from imparting best practice across these interventions and highlighting specific aspects for their context.



Salter, T. and Gannon, J.M. (2015), "Exploring shared and distinctive aspects of coaching and mentoring approaches through six disciplines", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 39 No. 5, pp. 373-392.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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