Coaching or Consulting-The Difference

It seems that everyone either has a consultant or a coach. I wear the title of Life Coach/ Hypnotherapist a.k.a Metaphysical Healer–Mind, Body and Spirit. I am often asked what the difference is between a coach and a consultant–how to know which is needed.

To answer this question we need to define the terms–Coach and Consultant. These words have become as common in today’s business world as Kleenex is to facial tissue.

Having been a consultant to Fortune 500 companies and a Coach, I give a first-hand definition. A consultant is a professional with specific areas of experience and expertise, who facilitates management and organizational change and/or provides subject matter expertise on technical, functional and business topics during development and/or implementation. In other words a consultant seeks to provide answers to business problems for their clients using a systematic analysis process, then offers solutions and is often retained to implement those solutions.

The consulting process may involve a team of experts. The analysis phase can be extensive and take several months. Employees, systems, and processes are assessed. Once complete, solutions are recommended and the company decides what if any recommendations will be implemented. A single project can take months or sometimes years to complete depending on the nature of the endeavor.

A Coach is a professional who is trained in a particular discipline or modality to foster individual internal change whereby that individual can achieve specific goals, improve relationships and become a more effective person overall. Like an athletic coach, a business or life coach fosters change, inspires, encourages, is a sounding board for ideas and holds the person accountable for achieving their goals and implementing change.

Business or personal coaching has become more popular in recent years and is what I consider the most effective approach to personal and professional change. Like the consulting process, there are assessments made, discoveries revealed and solutions recommended.

With coaching, the changes come from within. You explore your strengths and address issues unique to you vis-à-vis your career, relationships, etc. that are affecting your success and wreaking havoc in your work or personal relationships, your processes and your inner being–Mind, Body and Spirit. From this perspective the coaching process empowers you to create the changes you desire.

The coaching process is direct, focused and combines creating the future while healing the past with measurable results. Through this process your personal and professional life is synergistically rewarded with positive transformation.

Coaches often specialize in a specific area–personal coaching or business coaching. Some coaches address both. The coaching process can be a one-one-one or small group experience and often focuses on a specific perceived issue, such as management skills, assertive communication, decision making, planning or development.

In summary:

Consulting is a series of systematic and specific changes implemented by a professional, whose experience and expertise is congruent with the perceived needs.

Coaching is the process of exploring personal strengths and weaknesses to make the necessary changes in your behavior, beliefs and being held accountable while you implement the series of steps to create specific changes.

How do you determine which one you need? You may need both. It depends on your objective and the level of skill needed to achieve your desired goals. Most people do not need a coach to implement technological, management or organizational changes within their company. However, you may need coaching to support your decision making, problem solving and/or building stronger relationships and the developmental changes required to effect these changes.

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