Coaching and consulting differences

16 Major differences between Coaching and Consulting

In my previous article, I highlighted the definitions and similarities between coaching and consulting. In this article, I will focus on the 16 main differences as we see them. It is essential to understand these differences when deciding which of the two your business needs.

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It is very much like the pig and the chicken involved in providing a bacon and egg breakfast. The difference lies in the detail because one contributes, and the other is committing to making the breakfast happen.

The main differences between coaching and consulting

Approach:Coaching help business leaders to grow, develop professional skills and reshape underlying behaviours to improve leadership capabilities, communication, and performance. Coaching uses the inner wisdom and qualities of the client to get results.Consulting help businesses to solve specific problems by diagnosing the problem, making recommendations, offer expert advice, and assisting with implementation, utilising their expert consultants.
Focus:Coaches focus on the individual or team for them to uncover their solutions.Consultants focus on specific problems to find solutions.
Cost:Coaches work with the individual or teams and tend to spend less time in the business; the client makes most of the analysis and diagnosis with the coach supporting them.Consultants need to spend time in your business to diagnose and understand your business, which tend to be expensive as consultants usually charge per hour.
Source of wisdom:In coaching, we believe the client is the expert and holds the internal wisdom and qualities to solve the problems within the context of their business. Therefore, the coach partner with the client, ask questions for the client to arrive at their answers which they believe will work best.Consulting relies on using external subject matter experts and specialists with extensive knowledge, skills, and experience to address the business’s problems. The consultant will diagnose the problem, make recommendations, and answer what they believe is best.
Sharing of expertise:Coaches have expertise too, but it’s usually the last thing they share.A Consultant’s expertise is usually the main thing they share with clients.
Using data:When clients need to clarify where they want to go and what they value, the data may be less critical, and coaching is the answer.When a client needs someone to provide them with hard data, the consultant is the answer.
Left or right brain activities:Coaching is predominately “right-brained”. It is about growth and evolution. That said, consultants and coaches use both sides of their brain!Consulting is primarily a “left-brained” activity. It is about taking linear steps toward a specific goal. That said, consultants and coaches use both sides of their brain!
Importance of partnerships:Coaching is a partnership where those being coached must be motivated to change. Coaches can’t force someone unwilling to improve their skills or modify their thinking and behavioural patterns.A consultant may be brought in whether people like it or not; they do not require a partnership with those being consulted to recommend or implement change.
Finding answers:The Coach is a facilitator and good listener; they use a structured process using powerful questions and silence to help their client uncover their answers through thoughtful and sincere inquiry without judgement.Consultants find answers using their expertise and a structured process, asking the right questions, leading to the solutions they propose.
Who holds power:Coaching uses the knowledge and experience of the client to extract the answers from the client. As a result, the client uncovers strategies to move forward and to realise their goals within their context.Consultants speak with authority and tell the client what to do based on their analysis and expertise, and they provide the tools to move forward and implement the changes.
Problem-solving:Coaches may not have knowledge or expertise in your industry or business, and they do not need to understand your business to help you solve problems. Instead, they facilitate the process using the client’s knowledge and expertise to help them find clarity and answers. They employ powerful questions for their client to build capacity to solve problems and understand how to move forward, achieve their goals and grow personally.Consultants bring the technical knowledge, expertise, and experience to understand your business to solve the problems and help you implement solutions.
Responsibility for results:The coach guides and supports the client to structure a plan to achieve her or his result or outcome.Consulting results in structured projects to provide specific deliverables or results, which the consultant is primarily responsible for.
Resistance to change:Coaching requires the involvement and upfront willingness of all involved to ensure lasting change. Involving everyone throughout the process leads to behaviour changes, long-lasting clarity as growth comes from within.Consultants provide immediate and specific solutions for specific problems because they consult with the business; they can’t always involve everyone, resulting in solutions employees may feel are not invented here, which may cause resistance to the changes.
Teaching or discovery:A coach will help you discover the solutions for yourself. For example, when using a coaching approach to learn to ride a bicycle, the coach will let you get on the bicycle and walk beside you, guiding you through the process until you are comfortable riding on your own.A consultant will teach you a process and method to solve the problem. For example, when using a consulting approach to learn to ride a bicycle, the consultant will write a How-to manual for the client. They will tell the client what steps to follow and what actions to take to ride.
Uncovering possibilities and options:Coaches will help you to explore possibilities and options by asking the right questions.Consultants will provide you with possibilities and options based on their analysis of the problem area.
On a lighter note:The coach will ask you questions for you to discover how to tell the time.The consultant will ask you for your watch and tell you the time.

It is essential to know that there is no right or wrong here. Both approaches have a place, and both have pros and cons and can help your business grow tremendously.

One is not better than the other, and it is for the client to decide whether they need a fish (advice and solutions) or to learn how to fish for themselves (empowerment).

Let me know if this article was helpful.

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