An interesting discussion ensued on Facebook the other day. As I pondered a blog post that has been brewing in my mind, I asked,
“Coaches: I’m working on a list of the ways coaching is different from consulting. Any ideas / thoughts?”
I was not prepared for 18 responses, some contradicting others, all of which stemmed from the individual experience of the coach, consultant or client who was answering.
“Coaching builds learning environments; consulting claims knowledge.”
“Coaching is about guiding the person, Consulting is about guiding or managing the process.”
“Coaching is from the sidelines. Consulting might be very much in the trenches…actually doing some of the work.”
“No, consultants don’t do the work – that’s a contract laborer.”
“Coaching is telling somewhat to do, helping them do it. Consulting is working with them to find out what to do and how to do it.”
“Consulting is about the work. Coaching is about the “person doing the work.”
“Coaching creates an environment to create new information, where the client comes up with their own processes and answers. Consulting synthesizes and frames information back to the client, where the client can then choose next courses of action.”
And while this has all certainly got my brain going in many different directions, adding fuel to my own initial impressions about the difference, I am no closer to a definitive answer.
Is consulting different from coaching? If so, what is the difference? Coaches and consultants and clients – what has been your experience?