What is the difference between Mentor, Coach, Consultant, Tutor, Teacher, and Expert?

Mentor, coach, consultant, advisor, tutor, teacher, psychotherapist... How exactly do all these concepts differ from each other? Well, let's find out!
What is the difference between Mentor, Coach, Consultant, Tutor, Teacher, and Expert?

Consultants, coaches, and tutors, as well as other above-mentioned people, can be of great help in business organization by enhancing our knowledge and skills and pointing us in the right direction. Depending on the project, context, and purpose, they can take on one or more different roles. Further in the article, we will consider all of these concepts as separate roles, keeping in mind that the same person can perform services in one or the other role, as well as a combination of the two.

Let's have a closer look at the specifics of the following roles:

  • Consultant.
  • Advisor.
  • Expert.
  • Teacher.
  • Tutor.
  • Coach.
  • Mentor.
  • Psychotherapist.
  • Manager.


A consultant is someone with experience in a particular subject area and knowledge of:

  • How to use certain solutions.
  • How to produce a certain typical result within a certain subject area.
  • What are the methods and techniques for achieving certain typical goals.
  • How to choose the best methods, techniques, and tools to suit the peculiarities of a certain business.

An expert in a particular area, a consultant should be able to explain the details of achieving a certain goal, using a certain tool, and choosing the best option in a certain situation. That way, a consultant's role is to give you clarification and advice while selling you his time and expertise.

The important thing here is to understand that a consultant can only share information and guidance. He never does anything on his own. If he ever begins to implement his own advice, that will make him a contractor, a doer. A consultant sells only knowledge and experience. A good consultant, in the meantime, solely operates within his or her competencies.

So, when do you need a consultant? Actually, whenever you have a HOW question and want to UNDERSTAND what to do, what to choose, etc.

Another vital thing to remember is that while a consultant sells explanations, he is not responsible for the result, not even if all of his recommendations have been applied with absolute precision. A consultant's role is to save you time with enlightenment and clarification. If something goes wrong, it's your personal responsibility. A professional approach to consulting would be to see a few consultants and make your own conclusions based on theirs.

Finding a good consultant requires serious consideration of industry guidelines. All in all, a consultant combines the roles of a salesman and an advisor.


An advisor, or consigliere, is a person with whom you can discuss a situation you don't have a solution for. It is someone to talk to before you get a consultant to explain all the possible ways of solving it.

As long as the subject in question falls outside his area of expertise, an advisor cannot give professional advice or counsel. His role, however, is different: he helps to find a solution to uncertain or complicated situations. His great power lies in ability to systematize reflection. Compared to a consultant, an advisor's degree of professionalism is higher, since a consultant only works with known information while an advisor, on the contrary, must face uncertainties.

An advisor's job is not just about giving advice. That's not what makes him so valuable. He helps you to think, to reflect, and to do whatever it takes to break through the impasse. This is something he is good at. Typically, an advisor nudges you toward a solution, helping you find a way out.


An expert is a professional who has a sound knowledge base in a particular area enabling him to make assessments, judgments, findings, and conclusions. An expert can also make recommendations, which, however, is not his primary task.

When may you need an expert? If you happen to arrive at several solutions at once and can't choose one. And while an expert bears no responsibility for the final decision, he can give you an opinion based on the risks and prospects of issues beyond your expertise.

Keep in mind that you should not put all your trust in experts. All they do is give you a chance to hear different points of view. The decision, along with the responsibility of making it, is still up to you. An expert, in this way, combines the roles of an advisor, a teacher, and a professional.


A teacher is a person dedicated to transferring knowledge. Whenever you want to learn something, you look for a teacher to provide that knowledge to you. Its distinction from a consultant is wider scope. A teacher gives you more than a solution to a given issue. It's like when you attend leadership training, you learn how to make different decisions rather than to solve just one particular problem.

Speaking of training, it is there where you meet another person called a tutor.


A tutor doesn't just give you knowledge but helps you to master a certain skill. You may know how to do things, but developing a skill still takes practice. You must be trained to become a competent and smooth worker. And this is exactly what a tutor does.

Similar to a sports coach ensuring you do the exercises the RIGHT way to maximize efficiency, a tutor helps you to perform your part to perfection.

When do you need a tutor? If you KNOW exactly what you need to achieve your professional goal and just need somebody - a reminder, a supervisor - to monitor and facilitate your progress until you reach the level desired.

A tutor sometimes can be a teacher or an advisor, if needed. This role is a combination of a salesperson, a teacher, and a professional.


A figure relatively new in the business world, a coach is pretty similar to a tutor, but these two concepts still cannot be equated with one another. The coaches usually describe themselves as people who aim to unleash your potential by helping you uncover your resources that for some reason are blocked and inaccessible. Coaching methods, respectively, focus on asking questions to boost the necessary capabilities.

This way, although being a combination of a tutor, advisor, consultant, psychotherapist, and motivator, a coach cannot provide assistance in any of the listed roles. A coach is neither a specialist nor a professional. And yet he is able to give the impetus needed.


Another role that represents a complex mix of other roles is a mentor. He can act as a coach, consultant, tutor, teacher, expert, advisor, or even a broker or agent, if appropriate. It is a person who uses all the methods available to facilitate and encourage your success and development. Similar to a personally interested loved one, his role seems unnatural, because a mentor is supposed to be more accomplished than his mentee.

Mentors can be either so-called overachievers or people who have a vested financial interest in your success, and you know about it.

With the combination of requirements being rather challenging, finding a good mentor, especially in a particular area, is believed to be a Herculean task.

However, it is not. There are many renowned and respected mentors out there who have all of the above qualities. Moreover, they are not so hard to reach. It is obtaining their services that would be a real challenge. After all, it is hard to arouse a mentor's interest. Their help is highly-priced, too, but a good mentor is well worth it.

A mentor's primary responsibility is your level and progress. You don't have to know where to go or what kind of advice you need. It's all up to your mentor to decide, with no limits on the resources. In return, he bears responsibility for whatever happens to you in the future.


A psychotherapist is a properly qualified, experienced, and in some countries also licensed practitioner dedicated to addressing psychological issues that affect one's quality of life.

Psychotherapists' clients are usually suffering from psychological trauma caused by a negative past experience. Not only does the psychotherapist know how to deal with these problems, but he is also willing to put you out of your misery.

Your professional performance falls outside a psychotherapist's scope of practice. His only role is to fix you and restore your normal state of mind. For severe pathologies and advanced stages of mental illness, a psychotherapist may recommend seeing a psychiatrist.

So, when do you need a psychotherapist? If you are depressed or suffering from certain conditions which you feel are not inherent for your default state. If you fail to escape the psychological consequences of a particular unpleasant experience. If you just want to get back to your original self and go on with your life.

Seeing a psychotherapist may affect your success indirectly. After all, one must first get rid of any restraints before continuing to grow.

Thus, a psychotherapist combines the roles of a salesman, advisor, and professional. To decide if you need one, answer the following question: do you feel bad and look for relief, or do you feel good and want more? In the first case, you need to see a psychotherapist, in the second - go to a mentor or a coach.


Finally, there is also a role of a personal manager or personal assistant. It is sort of like a "babysitter" who monitors your tasks and your priorities, runs your personal errands, and is always there for you, just in case.

Rather handy for any executive, this role aims to assist, unburden, support, and take care of routine matters. A specialist of this kind will help a busy executive handle self-management problems and hectic schedules.

Good helpers for business are also a personal lawyer, personal accountant, or personal financial counselor. Compared to a simple assistant, they have expertise in narrow professional aspects, enabling them to act as consultants or advisors.