June 24, 2008 by  Ashley Guberman

I’ve been pondering the relationship between a coach, a mentor, and a friend. All three roles overlap in three intertwined circles (Venn diagram), but I’m not sure how.What I’m wondering is the defining characteristics of each role that distinguish it from the others. Is one a subset of the other? Can one be all three? One but not another? It’s easy for me to see things that a coach, mentor, or friend could all do. But what about items that a coach would do that a mentor would not? Is one of the roles predicated on subject-matter expertise? Which one?

I suspect that all of us can come up with examples of relationships that we have had with others where one or more of these roles came into play, and also that a given relationship may focus on different roles over time.

There is also the issue of reciprocity. For example, one party may see mentorship, where the other sees friendship. Again, these are not mutually exclusive.I am interested in your thoughts on the relationships between these roles, as well as any reference sources you might draw upon for how you see these roles.

A diagram of some relationships between these roles can be found here:

Useful reference material:

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