Axios Solutions

Mentors, Coaches & Peer Advisory Groups: What’s the Difference?

Mentors, Coaches & Peer Advisory Groups: What’s the Difference?

Life isn’t a solo sport. 

If the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing quarantine has taught us anything, it’s that life is better together. And that we need each other. Because we were created for relationships and community. 

When it comes to personal development, there are a few key relationships you need to help you grow: Coaches, Mentors, and Peer Advisory Groups. 

They’re all different, and they serve different purposes, but you need them all.


Your first memory or idea of a coach might be sports-related. Maybe you played little league as a kid or were a high school, maybe even college athlete. Your coach helped you learn the fundamental skills of the sport, and he or she made you go to practice, run drills, and play in scrimmages. 

Coaches, whether in sports or in professional pursuits, are usually content-related. You have a skill that you want to develop or a task that you need to accomplish, and a coach can help you get there. As an expert in the field with more experience than you, your coach will walk you through the necessary steps to hone a skill or complete a task. He or she will give you exercises or show you what to do next in the process, offering encouragement and support along the way. Once that skill is mastered or you achieve that accomplishment, you might not need that coach anymore. Kind of like when your sports season was over, you didn’t meet with that coach until the next season came around or until you needed him or her again for a specific skill. 

If you want to get better at a certain skill, find a coach who has that skill and experience who can help you get there, too.

Because you do not want to be surprised by what comes out of yourself in that moment. It only adds to the trauma, confusion and damage of the storm. 

If you’re always moving forward with an eye to the big picture and the person you’re becoming, then it won’t matter what happens in the storm. You’re going to survive because you’ve taken the time to build your character, your resolve, and your confidence. The storm may still leave some bruises or scars, but the damage will be minimal because you’ll be prepared.


Similar to a coach, a mentor will probably have more experience and knowledge in a skill you’re looking to improve in. But mentors are more invested in you as a person and not just the skill you’re building. 

While mentors can help bring you along in a process for skill building, they help you view your skills and your life more holistically. Mentors get to know you for the full person you are, not just one part of your life or career. A mentor asks strategic questions to help you see your life, your goals, and your dreams with a new and perhaps broader perspective. A mentoring relationship typically doesn’t just last for a season, but is a long-term friendship. Mentors can be thinking partners, cheerleaders, confidants, and advisors, and over time, they will know you well enough to have an idea of which one you need in a conversation. 

Mentoring relationships require a goodness of fit that you won’t always find in coaches. You’ll need to be able to accept feedback and constructive criticism from your mentor, and that means you’ll need to build a solid friendship with your mentor. It may take some time to find the right mentors that you need, but when you do, it will be worth the search.

Peer Advisory Groups

Coaches and mentors are great, and they provide you with specific, unique, and powerful elements for your personal development. But neither of them can do what a peer advisory group does. 

Peer advisory groups are a team of people who will encourage, advise, and support you. You might not have a goodness-of-fit with all the people in your peer advisory group, but you don’t necessarily need that. But you might particularly connect with one or two peers, and they might even become a coach or a mentor for you.

Peer advisory groups are real people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. They are people you trust and who are willing to help you create and solve problems in whatever you’re working on. When you face a business challenge, a peer advisory group can provide you with resources and ideas on how to conquer it. When you hit a personal crisis, your peer advisory group can offer hope through sharing how they overcame a similar trial. When you find yourself in spiritual upheaval, your peer advisory group can offer wisdom, encouragement, and prayer as you seek peace. 

“Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success” (Proverbs 15:22 NLT).

Christian Leadership MashUp™

The bottom line is that we were not made to go it alone in life. We need people around us to help us be successful. We need each others’ stories, hope, and wisdom. If we try to do life alone, it’s not going to work, because we were made for relationships and community. 

You might already have coaches and mentors, or at least some people you have in mind. You need a peer advisory group, too. If you don’t, you can start right here at Axios Solutions. Our Christian Leadership MashUp™ is a peer advisory group that brings together business, nonprofit, and church leaders for personal growth and pursuing excellence. Check it out and join today!