Why a Coach is NOT a Consultant

Often while talking to people about my coaching practice I get asked what the difference is between a coach and a consultant. Many people believe they are either the same thing or very similar. This is untrue. There are many distinct differences between someone who coaches and someone who consults.

First lets start with a definition of both.

Coaching is an interactive relationship with an individual or team that inspires people to identify and accomplish their personal and professional goals faster then they could on their own. Coaches do this in a variety of ways, some of which include:

*Personalize teaching

*Provocative conversation and questioning

*Expanding awareness

*Designing environments

*Co-creating solutions

Consulting is about giving direct answers to specific questions or problems. A consultant provides professional advice and services that he or she develops.

So, what are some examples of differences between coaching and consulting?

Coaching is about asking all the right questions while consulting is about having all the right answers. Consultants don’t listen as much as they tell while coaches listen and speak very little.

In coaching, the individual or team chooses the focus of conversation while the coach is there to listen, ask provocative questions, make observations and provide advice when asked for it. Consultants are there to give you their advice and tell you what to do to fix your problem or reach your goal. They have all the answers while a coach will co-create a solution or a path to a specific goal with you.

Consulting usually concentrates on company operations and corporate concerns while coaching is focused on you as an individual.

Consultants tend to use one methodology and apply this to all client projects which works well if you are in an established industry. Coaches customize their methods to each clients expressed needs and wants.

The end result of consulting is usually a report containing a plan of action. A report, or assessment, in coaching is usually the beginning of the relationship. Consultants expect you to follow their plan on your own while coaches are there to help you implement the plan.

It’s been my observation that people tend to follow through better and for longer periods of time when they come up with the answers to their problems themselves. Coaches help you do that. A coach does not sell you solutions like a consultant might. They help you find your own solutions and answers which makes you more capable and confident in going forward on your own. Like the old adage says, “Give a man a fish and he has a meal. Teach a man to fish and he has a mean for a lifetime.”