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CPR Level Up Series: Business Consultant or Business Coach to Level Up in 2024?

An article from Forbes (2018) asks if there is a difference between coaching and consulting. Often, the lines between coaching and consulting are blurred.  The terms coach and consultant are used interchangeably the way many use the terms leader and manager.  A leader is not a manager; however, a manager can lead. The most distinct definition of a manager is the one that handles the day-to-day operations. At the same time, a leader is responsible for maintaining the organization's mission and driving the vision (long-term). This article states, "Coaching can help turn an entrepreneur into a great leader. Consulting, on the other hand, provides that much-needed expertise and assistance."  While consulting provides assessment, review, feedback, and recommendations within your business plan, coaching, more specifically leadership coaching, is conducted to hone the leader's skill set while offering the emotional support and accountability needed to lead a business or organization effectively.

Today, we will explore some recommendations from Forbes Coaches Council that offer some differences between coaching and consulting:

1. Truth Versus Execution

Coaching pulls out answers from the client.

Consulting tells the client what to do.

2. Instruction Versus Guidance

Say you're learning how to ride a bicycle.

A consultant would ride the bicycle for a while and write you a "how to" manual.

A coach would have you get on the bicycle and walk alongside you, guiding you through the process until you are ready for the coach to release.

3. Building Capacity Versus Solving A Problem

Coaching is the building of capacity.

Consulting is helping the client resolve a particular business challenge.

4. Outside Expertise Or Internally-Driven Growth

A coach helps clients find their own clarity and answers.

A consultant is usually a subject matter expert who provides technical and professional advice to clients.

5. Exploring Versus Providing Possibilities

When you coach, you explore possibilities.

When you consult, you provide possibilities.

6. "You Know" Versus "I Know"

The role of a coach-help you find the answers for yourself.

A consultant is an expert who is there to provide the "right" answers to you based on their analysis of the situation.

7. Guidance Versus Authority

Coach develops clients to build to their potential.

Consultant provides technical and subject matter expertise.

8. Recommendation Versus Exploration

Coaches do not diagnose problems; rather, they partner with clients

Consultants diagnose a problem and make recommendations.

9. Asking Questions Versus Providing Solutions

A coach listens, they let silence do the work.

A consultant provides solutions.

10. Different Approach With The Same Intent

A coach answers questions and solutions are self-generated by a client; serves as a facilitator.

A consultant answers questions and solutions are provided by the consultant as subject matter expert.

11. Focus On Problem Or On Client

In coaching, the focus is on the client, and on helping them tap into their own ability to solve the problems and challenges that emerge in work and life.

In consulting, the focus is on the problem, and the consultant offers up best practices to address the problem.

12. Advice Versus Empowerment

Coaches are trained to empower the client to make their own decisions.

Consultants are hired to give expert advice in their field.

13. Difference Lies In Who The Expert Is

Coaches assume the client is the expert in their business. Through active inquiry and thought-provoking questions, a coach helps the client solve their own problems.

Consultants are the assumed expert.

In reviewing the above differences, one should have a general understanding of what experts believe about consulting vs. coaching. CPR contends a business in its infancy or adolescent stage needs a business consultant. If you are a self-described Effective Leader and you desire to evolve into a Moral & Ethical Leader, then it's a worthy investment to hire a Leadership coach NOT consultant. Lastly, if you are ready to level up on both arms, then both services can assist you and your team in going to the next level.

Warm Regards,


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