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Coaching vs. Consulting: What's the Difference?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Business Coach If you're a business consultant, then you may be wondering if you should get some coaching skills.

Or you may wonder if you're already coaching, now. Many people wonder what the difference between business consulting and business coaching really is.

The truth is, the difference depends on the coach, or the consultant. Both professions are about as varied as the individuals who call themselves coaches and consultants. Here are some differences, from my point of view.

1. Coaches ask more than they tell. Savvy consultants also ask a lot of questions, but they usually are in the "information gathering" mode. A good coach is just naturally curious. This is one of the reasons coaching is so effective. Even though your client hired you for your expertise, they will probably feel uncomfortable sharing their (or their business') problems and weaknesses with you. Chances are, they'll cover up what's really going on. But the same client will open up with a coach who is naturally curious.

2. A Consultant's expertise is usually the main thing they share with clients. Coaches have expertise too, but it's usually the last thing they share. That's not to say that expertise isn't important. Sometimes it's the thing the client most needs. By following their curiosity and the curiosity of their clients, coaches find out what's really going on and what the client really wants. Then they can share expertise in a customized and targeted manner, providing exactly what the client needs, when they need it.

3. Consultants often do a lot of measuring and testing. They then have metrics to share and specific recommendations about what to do. A coach may administer assessments, but they are less about the raw data and more about the meaning behind the data. Sometimes what a client really needs is the hard data. That's when they need a consultant. Other times a client needs to get clear about where they really want to go and what they really value. If that's the case, the data may be extraneous and they are better off with a coach.

4. Consulting is mostly a left-brained activity. It's about taking linear steps toward a specific goal. Coaching is predominately right-brained. It's about growth and evolution. That said, most consultants and coaches, use both sides of their brains, when needed!

5. Consultants usually offer training to their clients. So do coaches.

6. The truth is, most consultants do a little coaching and most coaches do some consulting. Both professions require practice to master. Good training can speed that up.

We offer a training program for non-coaches who want to add coaching to their current professions. It's called Coach Launch.

Topics: business coach, Coaching, coach training, coaching clients, business consultant, coaching skills, consulting

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