Mentor Coach: How To Inspire Others To Greatness

Are you inspired by joining the ranks of wise sages of ages past? Socrates, among others, stands out but even Socrates had to start somewhere. Being a mentor coach isn’t just about wisdom and experience. It’s about letting that wisdom guide you so that you too can guide and advise others towards something greater than any of us.

If you’re a coach, counselor or therapist, you already know all about guiding and supporting people. What about the next generation of coaches? Therapists can also make great coaches and everyone can make inspirational mentors.

Knowing how to be both the advisor and the peer, the teacher and the student is what makes mentoring so magical. Both mentor and mentee are coming together to share their experiences and wisdom. No matter what age you are, everyone has a piece of wisdom to share.

Becoming a mentor coach also expands your portfolio of offerings. As such, you’ll be targeting a greater range of clients who will most likely know your coaching techniques. One way to keep them motivated is by keeping your style and content fresh.

There’s no better way to do that than with a platform like Quenza. It has all the HIPAA and GDPR compliant storage in place but most importantly, it offers you hundreds of ready-made exercises. These exercises are all evidence-based and taken from a variety of fields including CBT, mindfulness, positive psychology and Acceptance Commitment Therapy, among others.

Why not see for yourself the impact you could have as a mentor coach with Quenza’s library by signing up for a free, full-access, one-month $1-only trial and see for yourself?

What is a Mentor Coach?

To use the standard from one of the major coaching organizations, the ICF, a mentor coach provides “professional assistance in achieving and demonstrating the levels of coaching competency demanded by the desired credential level sought by a coach‐applicant (mentee)”[1].

In other words, what is a mentor coach? It is a coach who has already achieved a certain level of coaching, in this case with the ICF, and is being mentored and coached on their coaching skills. They are not being coached on any normal coaching topics such as life skills or personal growth.

Of course, developing as a coach does overlap with personal growth. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that a mentor coach advises and teaches newer coaches so that they can pass the credential exams they need. This is not to be confused with a coach whose sole aim is to guide and not teach or advise.

If you’re reading this as a coach, you already know the answer to “is a mentor and coach the same”. Where perhaps the definitions blur is because coaches often find themselves using different hats depending on the situation.

As long as you are clear with your coachees that you are temporarily putting on your mentor hat or HR hat or even the teacher hat, there is no confusion. Moreover, the intention of putting on whatever that it is has to be for the benefit of the coachee and not, as the ICF specifically mentions in their competencies, about the coach demonstrating their knowledge.

Referring to the ICF again, a mentor coach has very similar responsibilities as a coach. So, everything starts by defining your ethics and setting the coaching agreement. Of course, the wording has to be tweaked to cover mentoring. 

Coaching Client Agreement

Quenza’s vast library already has a ready-made agreement set up for you which you can easily amend to suit mentoring coaches.

If you’re looking to gain ICF credentials, you have no choice but to work with a mentor coach. The ICF specifically asks you to name your mentors when you submit your application. Moreover, you have to meet the minimum of 10 hours of mentoring.

The ICF isn’t the only coaching organization out there but they all have requirements for how much mentoring coaches need. The main driver for this is to ensure their certified coaches all honor both the ICF code of ethics and core competencies[2].

As a mentor coach, your core responsibility is to embody both those ethics and set of competencies. At the same time, you can obviously make no guarantee to your mentee that they will pass the desired credential. Nevertheless, you can advise them and support them accordingly.

The Blurred Lines of Mentor Coaching vs. Coaching

Whether you’re a motivational, lifestyle, accountability or any other type of coach, you will be applying different skills as a mentor coach. Interestingly, the original US school of thought during the 60s was that those skills were tied to being the career sponsor or the “ambitious authority figure”. This later evolved and merged with the European approach which focused on using the relationship to develop the mentee through learning and experimentation rather than simply imparting knowledge[3].

Today, this developmental relationship is very much still the focus. As such, a mentor coach encourages a reflective process while also teaching where appropriate. This differs from coaching where teaching is generally avoided, unless a specific situation comes up.

For example, mentor coach topics clearly follow the coaching process defined by the governing organization. In the case of the ICF, the list of ethics and competencies set the framework. Where a mentee doesn’t follow those, the mentor will tell them they need to adjust their approach.

This contrasts with coaching where the process is very much client-led, or person-led. There is no right or wrong and the assumption is that the client knows best what they need to do. They have all the resources they need and all the coach does is to help them find the door.

The Strengths Profile Self-Reflection

This Quenza exercise can be a powerful motivator for any mentee who might be feeling overwhelmed. As a mentor, you can send them this so that they can highlight their specific strengths according to several themes. You can then work together to explore how your mentee uses them in coaching and to support the core competencies they need for their certification.

As you can see from the above exercise, you often blend coaching and mentoring. The lines get easily blurred between mentoring, which is a form of advising, and coaching which is about guiding others without telling them what to do. In fact, recent mentoring research shows that mentoring activities can cover any or all of the following[4]:

  • counseling – in this case, listening and identifying problems
  • coaching – guiding self-reflection and asking questions for self-discovery
  • tutoring – teaching the “right” process and competencies
  • sponsoring – in some cases, the mentor coach can connect newly certified coaches to a network or coaching platform for finding clients
  • advising – in terms of career growth and coaching niche
  • befriending – building rapport to create the safe and supportive relationship needed for learning

So, what is mentor coaching? It’s a relationship and process where a mentee’s coaching skills are improved. As a result, mentees grow in confidence, awareness and self-actualization. They essentially become the best coach they can be with fulfilled potential. As a result, they would naturally gain an appreciation of life[4]

How to Become a Mentor Coach

Why do we do anything in life? Is it to serve some inner need or to support the wider community? Most coaches already know they want to help others but interestingly, research shows a subtle difference with the why behind that need to help.

People tend to mentor others because they are either “over-focused” and want to share information so that others can grow. Alternatively, they are “self-focused” and driven by the personal satisfaction of seeing others develop. The more you know your “why”, the more committed and successful you can be[4].

Now, how to become a mentor coach? If you’re following the ICF approach, you need to be at least an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) coach with your membership up to date. The European equivalent, the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), has a similar approach with their own criteria for coaching levels.

Besides coach certification with either of the major coaching organizations, you don’t officially need a mentoring certification. You simply leverage your existing coaching credentials. The reasoning is that you already have the competencies to coach and the overlap with being a mentor coach is very close. Adding some advisory or teaching components to coaching is also not something most coaches struggle with.

If you want to deepen your mentoring skills, you can, however, complete a specific mentoring or even supervision certification. Many current mentor coaches use those hours to log as practice hours for their supervisory submission.

It’s critical to remember the difference between the mentor vs coach definition. Within that, it’s worth bearing in mind the “two dimensions of helping” as shown by the two axes below [4]. Just like managing any good paradox, the art is to find the right balance between the extremes.

Four Basic Styles of Helping

A great mentor coach knows how to balance the questions “who’s in charge” with “what does the mentee need”. Research shows that personal development is better achieved when the mentee is in charge but vice versa when the mentoring goal is sponsorship and career advancement. In terms of needs, shifting through the quadrants of the paradox results in different styles. A great mentor knows how to combine all those styles to create the perfect experience[4].

There are of course some great mentoring courses where you can learn the various models for helping others, such as the one we mentioned above. For more details, review our previous blog on the Best Coaching and Mentoring Courses & Training Programs.

In terms of mentor coach salary, this depends on the person, situation and relationship. For example, a more experienced coach might charge $300 per hour. One at the lower levels of credentials might only charge something closer to $100 per hour.

As a coach, you’ll also know the value of relationships and actually, coaches love meeting people and helping each other out. You might find that you’re willing to be someone’s mentor coach for free because you’re already part of a supportive community. You might also need the hours to log for your supervisory training.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to why you want to be a mentor coach. Only you can decide how you charge for your time such that you can maximize the benefits for both you and your mentee.

Transforming Organizations with Mentor Coaching for Employees

Whilst being a mentor coach is a specific relationship between coaches and aspiring coaches, mentors in general play an important role in many spheres of life. These include the workplace, sports, careers as well as cross-cultural and generational mentoring.

International mentoring expert, Dr. Lois J. Zachary explains in her book “The Mentor’s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships” that mentors are essentially catalysts for the next generation of leaders. So, a mentor coach who coaches leaders and mentors fellows coaches, would be an asset to any organization. 

Furthermore, she continues to describe the role of a mentor which applies equally well to employees as covering all of the following [5]:

  • Create a learning partnership
  • Help mentees identify goals
  • Negotiate a learning contract
  • Help learners define objectives
  • Use multiple modalities and resources to achieve the objectives
  • Guide the learning experience
  • Hold mentees accountable to goals and objectives

As you can imagine, how to mentor and coach employees include all the above points. In order to successfully manage those points, there are various techniques. Again, you’ll most likely see the overlap of the mentor vs coach approach.

In terms of client-focused techniques, you will most likely explore goals and build a sense of purpose[6]. For employees, this could be navigating their careers or how to grow their network. At this point, both a coach and mentor would tease out the client’s strengths and how they can support their goals. Those strengths could also be explored for how they can turn around any problems the employee might have.

Strength Interview

This Quenza exercise sets a good foundation for exploring how strengths energize and support client goals. The reflective questions are powerful but can easily be added to according to the client, if you wish. 

You also have process-focused techniques. Not only do these keep you on track but they also serve as good reporting points for the organization. For example, David Clutterbuck, author and professor of mentoring and coaching at Sheffield Halam and Oxford Brookes Universities proposes a three-phase model[7]:

1- Contractual Phase – a short period of time at the start where the relationship is established and the overall purpose and context explored.

2- Transactional Phase – the core section where goals, problems and beliefs are explored with better defined goals often finally being put together.

3- Review Phase – a check in for both mentor and mentee is important as well with peers, colleagues and bosses, where appropriate.

As all coaches know, real life isn’t as seamless as many of these models and process steps often suggest. In his book on Further Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring, Clutterbuck goes into more detail than most books on “disconnects” and how to deal with them[7].

Many new coaches berate themselves when disconnects happen but they are actually a normal human experience. They also become another critical clue for the mentoring or coaching reflection experience. Moreover, as a mentor, you can normalize disconnects for employees so that they too can better manage them with other relationships. Everything, no matter how big or small, becomes a learning experience and what better place to work through these moments than with a mentor?

Mentor Coach Salary

As mentioned, how to become a mentor coach simply means being a certified coach with one of the certifying bodies such as the ICF or EMCC. Also, as we saw, hourly rates for a mentor coach usually range between $100 and $300.

Of course, your salary depends on where you pitch yourself as a coach so some more renowned coaches who work with businesses might charge $1000 per hour or above. Although, generally, the majority in the coaching industry offer their services in the hundreds of dollars per hour.

A mentor coach’s salary is affected by your salary as a coach but also how you market yourself. Not only do you need a solid coaching bio but you also need a proper marketing and business plan.

For example, to be a mentor coach, make sure your directory listing is up to date with your coaching organization so that future coaches can find you. You can also try to partner with training providers who specifically work with future coaches.

Finally, perhaps you want to spend more hours as a mentor coach to eventually become a coach supervisor. In that case, you’ll also need to explore team and group coaching because supervision often happens in groups.

In short, your salary will depend on where you’re heading, what niche you want to focus on and your deeper, innate motivations. With all that clearly in your mind, success and salary will come to you naturally.

Major Mentor Coach Topics

The question “what is mentor coaching” will automatically guide you towards mentor coach topics. As we’ve explained, the aim is to mentor a future coach to pass their certification. The topics therefore revolve around the coaching process, ethics and competencies.

As a mentor coach, you’ll most likely also share your own experience of becoming a coach and what worked for you and what didn’t. One aspect you might also decide to share is tips on how to pass the ICF exam, for example. The ICF posts sample questions as well as an increasing number of websites.

When reviewing how to mentor and coach employees, you’ll cover a much wider range of topics under the personal growth and development umbrella. This can include, but isn’t limited to, leadership development, career transitions, work-life balance, communication skills, self-confidence, and emotional intelligence.

The Best Possible Resilient Self

As part of the quest for the right goals, this Quenza exercise can be a good check in for mentees and coachees. This reflective exercise encourages them to tap into their inner resources that allow them to deal with challenges. They can then more easily define action plans for that career transition they’re fearing, for example.

As we’ve explained, you want to spend time upfront exploring not just the goals presented but the context in which the coachee or mentee operates. What might appear to be a problem could in fact only be a symptom of a larger problem. Together, you can uncover the whole system and work towards the right goals for that person.

Mentor Coach Resources

Sometimes we need to look into the future and imagine what life might be like as a mentor coach. So, will you be offering mentoring to the wider community or simply to coaches? Can you see yourself as a coach supervisor or are you more of an organizational change partner? Organizational coaching and mentoring can also go well together.

Going through the various mentor coach resources is also a good way to test your intrinsic motivation. If you’re drawn to one book over another, for example, perhaps your gut instinct is telling you something. A good place to start is with the two books we’ve mentioned and referenced below: Everyone Needs a Mentor by David Clutterbuck and The Mentor’s Guide by Lois J. Zachary. They’ll naturally inspire any aspiring mentor coach or pure mentor.

We then enter the vast world of digital resources. How you use them is up to your creativity. Quenza, for instance, offers an experiential approach to working with coachees and mentees. On our platform, you build activities, create pathways and operate with customized client portals.

As a mentor coach, you’ll also particularly appreciate the groups function especially within the ICF. To meet the mentoring requirements, some of the 10 hours can be done with a group which helps mentees cut down costs. To find out more, explore group coaching topics which are just as easily applied to mentee groups.

Even better, you can see for yourself by signing up for a free, full-access, one-month $1-only trial.

Although, of course, there are other options out there such as looking for apps that match you with mentees. To get you started, we compiled a few that stand out in the table below.

Overview of Digital Platforms for Mentoring

MentorloopThis platform allows organizations to connect mentors with mentees within their workforce. External mentors can introduce it to an organization as a means to becoming self-led whilst training and coaching mentors alongside it.Specific design points for different groups whether you’re mentoring in the workplace, universities or communities. Overall, it offers bespoke programs designed around goals, decision markers and mentor specialty.Starts at $299/month to offer different program themes.
TorchAnother organizational platform focused on businesses going through hyper-growth, re-org or other major transformations.Offers both a coach and mentor matching platform along with goal tracking and mentee progress.You can easily sign up to be a coach or a mentor on their platform.
MentorpassSpecific for direct-to-consumer mentors to connect them to startup founders.Members join based on their expertise and receive tailored support to expand their reach.Starts at $300/month.
QuenzaA client experience and management platform that can be used by both coaches and mentors.A platform that offers back-end documentation management and storage along with personalized client portals, a vast library of evidence-based exercises, chat functions and more.Starts at $49/month, then $89/month and unlimited at $149/month.

Overall, the resources are out there. The question for you now is what you want to do with them. So, spend some time exploring and maybe even sign up for a course. If you’re already a coach, why not simply dive in? Isn’t that what we often hear our clients saying in the end “nothing’s stopping me from giving it a go”?

Expanding Your Impact As A Mentor Coach

Whether you want to share your knowledge or enjoy watching future coaches become successful thanks to your mentoring, being a mentor coach is hugely rewarding. It also adds another skill set alongside your coaching.

As such, why not expand and become a mentor to employees and enable them, in turn, to be great mentors themselves? So, the domino effect of your impact grows evermore.

While there are many mentor coach resources, it can be useful to explore a few different options. Perhaps a few books alongside an app and even a course or whatever combination works for you.

As budget is usually a key consideration, don’t forget that for only $1, you get the free, full-access, Quenza platform for one-month. You’ll have everything that professional coaches and mentors need to create the ultimate client experience and grow a successful business. This includes both back office client management and customized interfaces for each client. What’s stopping you from signing up? 


  1. ^ International Coach Federation. (2021). Mentor coaching duties and competencies.
  2. ^ IInternational Coach Federation. (2022). ICF competencies level table.
  3. ^ Clutterbuck, D. (2001). Everyone needs a mentor: Fostering talent at work. The Cromwell Press.
  4. ^ PlankCenter. (n.d.). Mentoring research and best practices white paper.
  5. ^ Rao, M. S. (2012). Overview of Lois J. Zachary. The mentor's guide: Facilitating effective learning relationships. ELT Research Journal, 1(2), 142-145.
  6. ^ Clutterbuck, D., & Megginson, D. (2009). Further techniques for coaching and mentoring. Elsevier Ltd.
  7. ^ Clutterbuck, D., & Megginson, D. (2009). Further techniques for coaching and mentoring. Elsevier Ltd..

About the author

Anne is a coach-counselor with a background in neuroscience, mindfulness, Gestalt therapy, and adult developmental theory.

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