Coaching and Consulting: What’s the Difference?

February 18, 2022 by Molly Daniels

What is the Difference Between Coaching and Consulting and Why it Matters?

Even the most successful people need an outside perspective from time to time — that additional perspective may even be a key component to what makes them successful. As more people are turning to these outside voices to help refine their business and increase productivity, they may seek out a consultant or coach to provide the insight they’re looking for.

You may not think about the difference between a consultant and a coach until you need one. You might think there isn’t much of a difference, but both are useful in helping you set and achieve goals in very different ways.

If you’re looking to hire a coach or consultant, it’s very important to know the distinction so that you can clearly communicate your goals and get the results you need. The difference between the two is firmly rooted in approach. 

As leadership and career coach Leanne Wong so succinctly puts it: “Hire a consultant when you need an expert who can teach you a process or method. Hire a coach when you want to discover yourself.”

Coaching and Consulting What’s the Difference

What is the Difference Between Coaching and Consulting and Why it Matters?

Even the most successful people need an outside perspective from time to time — that additional perspective may even be a key component to what makes them successful. As more people are turning to these outside voices to help refine their business and increase productivity, they may seek out a consultant or coach to provide the insight they’re looking for.

You may not think about the difference between a consultant and a coach until you need one. You might think there isn’t much of a difference, but both are useful in helping you set and achieve goals in very different ways.

If you’re looking to hire a coach or consultant, it’s very important to know the distinction so that you can clearly communicate your goals and get the results you need. The difference between the two is firmly rooted in approach. 

As leadership and career coach Leanne Wong so succinctly puts it:

“Hire a consultant when you need an expert who can teach you a process or method. Hire a coach when you want to discover yourself.”

Coaching Gets Personal

Coaching assumes that the most important expertise is latent within the client. Coaches help their clients actualize the solutions that lie within by using targeted questions and tools. They consider their clients to be the “experts” in their own lives and business. This gives the client a sense of agency and empowerment as they realize how much they are capable of. A good coach is like a miner who comes into a new place and helps its residents discover what natural resources already exist. 

Coaches can specialize in a broad range of things, but their overall goal is to enhance their client’s self awareness while providing accountability and support as their clients work toward their goals. This requires a coach to be in tune with the client’s personality, and to guide them into self-realizations. The ultimate goal is to help them find their own answers and aid them in the discovery of the capabilities they had all along.

For many people, the benefits of coaching extend far beyond their professional lives. Not only has it been proven to help people achieve their career goals, but it has also been associated with a greater ability to cope with change and has even been linked to decreases in depressive symptoms.

We’ve all experienced how helpful it can be to have someone in our corner, cheering us on. Coaches do just that. Fostering confidence and personal growth is the name of the game. As the world continues to change, many businesses are understanding that personal growth is key to professional growth, especially in leadership, and they are turning to coaches to enhance the way their leaders function.

Consultants Are Experts

 Consultants provide external solutions to resolve business problems and train people in a field in which they specialize. By nature, they typically work with businesses or organizations, rather than individuals, and they often provide more specific direction than a coach would. Where a coach would guide their client to enhance their existing abilities, a consultant will more likely provide the answer to an immediate issue and train the client how to respond next time.

The goals developed with a consultant will be rooted in their expert opinion, and the consultant often remains alongside to analyze results, teach methodologies, and provide ongoing advice. Their approach is focused more on quantifiable results than on behavioral changes. While the coach is like a miner looking for resources, a consultant is more like a delivery truck of goods that can provide what was missing.

From a business perspective, this can be a great way to overcome obstacles that are standing in the way of an efficiently run office. We all need a little expertise sometimes, and businesses are no exception. Consulting can be a great way to approach a problem with a fresh and knowledgeable set of eyes.

What are the benefits of hiring a coach or consultant?

Whether you hire a coach or consultant, you’re going to find an advocate who can help you set clear goals and take the steps needed to attain them. Both of these professionals can change the way a business functions, increase productivity, and improve morale. They each have their strengths and can be an incredibly useful tool for growth. It’s no wonder that more businesses than ever are turning to them for added help.

Nowadays, so many of us recognize that it is not only wise to seek out help when you need it, but it’s also incredibly satisfying and empowering. As we look to the future, professionals who enable us to function better are only going to increase in value as we acknowledge what they have to offer us, and as we all seek to be better together.

In this Coaching to Flourish Session, our hosts discuss the difference between coaching and consulting:

What if clients require some consulting

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You may also enjoy Coaching to Flourish video.

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