In my business I am most often involved in Executive Coaching. However there are also times when I am asked to act as a Consultant. There is quite a big difference between the two roles but sometimes people confuse them.
The Key Differences
- In Executive Coaching you do not need to be an expert on the coaching topic. As a Consultant it is pretty important to be an expert on the topic.
- Consultants are paid for the advice they provide to clients. This tends to come as a set of proposals or recommendations.
- In Executive Coaching the Coach is paid for his or her skill in enabling Clients to find their own solution to the topic under discussion. In fact it is considered to be poor coaching where the Coach provides the Client with advice.
- An Executive Coach will take the view that the Client best understands their situation and topic and needs help to step back and see things from a different perspective. A Consultant will see part of their role as interpreting what is going on and giving you their view of things.
- In Executive Coaching the Client is in charge of the agenda and the topics that get covered in each session. Consultants tend to take their objectives and get on with the job. They decide what they are going to do and when they are going to do it in order to achieve the objectives within the agreed timeframe.
- Executive Coaching is most often a partnership between an Executive Coach and a Senior Manager in an organisation. It’s a bit like two people sailing across a bay. Both have the same objective, but different roles in getting from A to B. One might be rigging the sails the other might be navigating. In Consultancy the Consultant is normally hired by a Manager, a team or an organisation as an expert in a particular subject area. Therefore people tend to defer to the expertise of the Consultant they have hired. This is not the case with a Coach.
- Both disciplines have their processes tools and frameworks. Because these are tangible it makes everyone involved feel comfortable with what’s going on. A warning – lots of tools and processes does not necessarily equate to high quality outputs.
- Both Consultants and Executive Coaches need a very high level of listening and questioning skills.
- There is a clear role for both roles for the right type of assignment. But the roles are very different so make sure you pick the right one for your circumstances.
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