Coaching or consulting

Which is the best solution, coaching or consulting?

Often, our clients want to know whether coaching or consulting is the best solution, seeing that we offer both services.

To help them decide, I opted to write two articles addressing the similarities and then 16 main differences.

When trying to understand the differences between two topics, a good starting point is to look at the definition of each. So let’s start with the dictionary definitions for coaching and consulting using the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

When searching for coaching, you are confronted with a plethora of terms containing coaching, like life-, business-, executive-, team-You even get sex coaching. The purpose of this article is not to define each of these; if you are interested, you can visit the following web pages or for additional information.

Defining coaching and consulting

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary: The term coaching is defined as a private tutor or one who instructs or trains – “especially: one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a sport and directs team strategy”. It sounds as if it only being used for sport. Wikipedia provides the following definition, which is more applicable to the business world: “Coaching is a form of development in which an experienced person, called a coach, supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance.” Other definitions for coaching can found on the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the World Association of Business Coaches (WABC) websites; both are industry bodies for coaching professionals. ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires personal and professional potential. WABC defines coaching as a process of engaging in regular, structured conversations with a “client”; an individual or team who is within a business, profit or non-profit organisation, institution or government.

Merriam-Webster defines consulting as “providing professional or expert advice”. Wikipedia defines a consultant as” a professional (also known as Expert, Specialist) who provides advice and further purposeful activities in an area of specialisation.”

Coaching and consulting have their place

Both coaching and consulting have a place in the business world. However, one needs to understand the similarities and differences between them to help decide which is the better option to help your organisation perform and grow.

You will find many articles like the one from Forbes that give insight into the topic.

If you are looking for the short answer, it all boils down to Asking vs Telling. However, I want to provide more examples and detail from my research to distinguish between the two.

Similarities between coaching and consulting

There are, however, a few similarities we need to first understand before focussing on the differences between the two.

Coaching and consulting help businesses grow and solve problems, although they use distinctly different approaches. In addition, consultants and coaches are open-minded, which allow them to find solutions not always easily visible. The coach and the consultant are experts in their respective fields, and both deliver the results. They are highly skilled and knowledgeable to share best practices from their field of expertise. It allows them to work across all areas of the organisation, from the c-suit to the teams. Both are well versed in organisational design and the pros and cons of transformation options. Both follow a process to understand the client’s needs, develop a vision of the expected outcome, set goals, develop implementation plans and assist the client in implementing. The work is project-based, with a definitive beginning and end to the interventions and interactions required. Both may have a long-term relationship with the business.

In our next article, I will focus on the 16 main differences between coaching and consulting.

Let me know if this article was helpful.

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