Growth, Productivity, Results


Coaching v Consulting - Do you need a Coach or a Consultant?  

re-published May 15, 2010


This is an interesting topic especially because the Executive Coaching has exploded in the past ten years. It is also a topic that cannot be addressed in one article, however, we will begin to shine some light on this topic with the intent of assisting individuals make better decisions as to which of the two professions you would need and also, how to select the correct resource to assist you.  
Executive Coaches are not quite the Business Consultants whom you would hire to address particular operational, process or technical issues within your business.  Rather, Coaches combine the transference of knowledge and the development of skill sets to either an individual or a group of individuals within a business for the specific purpose of improving the performance of a leader(s).  A coach achieves this by helping an individual(s) make the most of their natural abilities and finding ways around their weaknesses. As important as the transference of knowledge and behavior modification, a good coach will hold individuals accountable. Executives in larger corporations have long relied on coaches, but arguably entrepreneurs need them more.  Why, you may ask? It's because entrepreneurs are more isolated from the resources that can provide alternative views, discuss, and or debate options or provide a more objective reality check on the overall performance of you, as a leader, and or the performance of the business. Eventually the boss wants a boss, a mentor, a trusted advisor.  


Consultants on the other hand are retained to provide "expert" knowledge in a particular strategic, functional, or tactical area. For example, completing Market Research or Channel Analysis, Value Engineering Study, or New Product Introduction assessment. They are charged with the accomplishment of a specific project or tasks.  Consultants will provide work product and review findings, however rarely, unless otherwise engaged provide ongoing insights. Once the assignment is completed the engagement is terminated. In either case whether it is a Coaching or Consulting engagement two things must be defined and agreed to prior to the engagement commencing.  The first is somewhat obvious and that is definition of the scope of work to be completed.  The second is less obvious, but is equally as important especially when engaging a Coach and that is defining what a successful engagement
would entail. Specific milestones should be identified, whether they are events or successful completion of a process. Ultimately, some questions that must be answered  are - Do we need a mentor or do we want to accomplish a specific task within the business and subcontract that assignment to an outside resource.

In our next edition we will address - How to select the correct Coach or Consultant.