People ask me what is the difference between coaching and consulting.
Here is how I make the distinction:
Consulting is a relationship that transcends a list of services.
The client invests trust and confidence in the consultant’s expertise. It is a sacred trust for me and an honor to be invited into the “inner corridors” of a company. I am privileged to observe and interact with the foundational fibers of the company. Our process begins with a personal interview of the company principals and providing a non-judgmental, non-disclosure safe environment for the leaders to reveal their perspectives and fears. Any actions are based on these findings. Services are crafted to target the leader’s expectations, while part of the process is to feedback realistic information to make the best informed decisions. The ROI of this engagement is measured in these ways:
- Approved proposal by leaders on how well we understand what the leader wants to achieve.
- Delivery on the promise we create together.
- Positive implementation of the approved concepts.
- Achievement of realistically defined goals within the determined duration.
The primary difference I find between a coach and a consultant is how the relationship is formed.
· The greatest difference between a consultant and coach is that consulting is object referral (outside the circumstance), the solution comes from outside the situation and is over laid onto the project. In contrast, coaching is self-referral; results come from within the person. There is more ownership because there is greater involvement within the coaching process. Both are objective processes and provide different outcomes.
· A consultant is also an expert in a particular field or industry. They are hired to “fix” a condition. The premise is that the consultant will provide suggested answers, implement and conduct the work for a fee. The consultant is more likely to tell the client what to do because consultants are expected to provide an answer. The expectations of the client-consultant relationship drive the outcome. Also, time constraints are often tight.
· A coach can be an expert generalist or exclusively within one field as with a financial coach. Coaches focus on mentally healthy people. The coach is a mentor or catalyst for people who recognize a need for a fresh approach to how they are or want to be conducting their careers and their life choices. Clients are seeking direction and strategy. The fact that the client seeks support indicates readiness for progress. The client and I construct a support system based on the clients’ defined desires.
· Business coaches have been around for millennia. They have had different names throughout history and even do so today. The U.S. presidential cabinet simulates coaching. Advisors to all heads of state provide a coaching presence. Historically, prime ministers and advisors to monarchs were like coaches and wielded much power from behind the scenes. With the overload of information and inconsistency of early-year school training, adults in business find themselves short in specific areas. They can employ a coach as a team member to fill the expertise and time gap.
Coaching is a client-driven process
One of the greatest outcomes from my coaching experience is assisting clients to recognize their personal ability to INFLUENCE results while retaining their integrity and personal focus.
· Unlike therapy, which is steeped in past causes, the client and I look toward the future. There is little need to return to the past. The fact that the client seeks support, indicates readiness to progress.
· Many clients use my coaching services modeled after the sports coach. The coach’s role is to provide a condition for them envision the possibilities and ultimately encourage them on how to achieve the vision.
· The best course of action is determined by timing, resources and real-time ability to accomplish specific targets.
· I assist the client to develop concrete strategies that can be generalized to other work and personal areas. Confidence builds and becomes strength. Clarity of issues and targets produces results. The attitude map is drawn and supports flexibility. It constantly raises questions like “what does it take to accomplish my goal?”
· My role as a coach is to assist and support my clients while they process their discoveries within a non-judgmental environment. Although many clients begin with wanting to be accountable to someone else (object referral), we discuss strategies together for internalizing this process so they can draw from their own strengths. We build a positive scaffolding to manage risk-taking, and they begin this process by not being alone.
Why people seek a coach
- An invitation to a coach to enter into a corporate or personal situation usually is based on a recognized condition that requires change.
- The coach challenges and stimulates the client to ask and to answer personal questions that respond to the shifts in the environment.
- I help the client recognize and retain personal power while demonstrating leadership and team-building skills.
- A coach can echo and promote clarity based on desired new direction.
- The coach reflects contexts and conditions back to the client to help them position themselves within that framework.
Business coaching is a specialty.
It is a niche requiring business skills beyond the personal coaching skill set. It is important because it generates the process from a creative place and is not stunted by a company’s internal issues or theoretical business school models. It provides a fresh field upon which a client can continue building personal accountability into a future personal and professional model. Bottom line is that businesses are comprised of people. Coaching supports best practices for working with personnel, customers, and a business leader’s audience.
Michelle Cubas, Business Analyst and Certified Coach, CPCC, ACC, CPBA, CPVA
Positive Potentials LLC