Coaching or consultancy?

Recently I had an enquiry from a potential client who was looking for some coaching. I suggested that she have a look on my website to get a better feel of the way that I worked. The following day I received an email saying that she was no longer interested...



The reason given was that I provide professional coaching for organisations, and that she was not looking for a business consultant but rather a life coach.

I never got the opportunity to reassure her that I provide the same type of coaching to both my private and corporate clients. As a coach, my job is to unlock a person's potential, (it doesn't matter what environment they are in) and that I am not a consultant.

The reason I am sharing this exchange is because it highlighted to me how often coaching and consultancy gets mixed up, not only by private individuals but also by the organisations looking to hire me!

There is often a confusion whether it is a coach or a consultant that organisations actually need... and what is the difference anyway?! I thought that I would take the opportunity to try and unpick some of the confusion for both myself and others!

The problem arises because sometimes the lines between coaching and consultancy are blurred with some individuals offering both, two for one right? Unfortunately when these lines get blurred you can lose out, ending up with a rather mixed experience, which is neither one or the other.

Coaches and consultants are both so valuable for businesses, but they are  different things, and should not be confused. Coaching can help turn a member of staff into a great leader. Consulting, on the other hand, provides that much-needed expertise and assistance. 

Knowing when to employ the services of a coach or a consultant can be crucial for your business, either by helping you develop new leadership skills or by helping you solve a particular problem head-on.

So here is my take on it.

Imagine you are learning to drive, a coach is the driving instructor. They help you gain confidence on the road. They sit in the passenger seat next to you. They give you the time, space and help needed to grow as a new driver. A consultant on the other hand, is more like the driving examiner. An expert driver who can point out where you are passing and failing, with suggestions about what you can do next time.

Perhaps that is the main difference... consultants come with a bag full of answers, whilst the coach's bag is full of questions. By asking the right questions coaches help you find your own ways to tackle the problems that you are facing, whilst consultants help provide the solutions from their own knowledge and expertise. 

So that is my take, a consultant is the person that your business needs when you need an expert to teach you something, or resolve a particular problem. A coach is the person who helps you to discover the answers for yourself. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Sudbury CO10 & Woodbridge IP12
Written by Jamie Symons, Life Coach - Executive Coach - Integral development Coach
Sudbury CO10 & Woodbridge IP12

Jamie Symons
Professional Coach

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