Executive Coaching and Business Consulting

How Are They Different?

How do you decide whether it's best to work with an executive coach, a business coach, or a business consultant?

The answer depends entirely on the outcome you seek. Coaches and business consultants provide distinctly different benefits for executives, entrepreneurs, professionals, and leadership teams.

A business consultant working with an  executive

Consultants are normally hired to access a body of knowledge and expertise not generally available within the company. Consulting also tends to focus on organizational issues of considerable scope.

Business and executive coaching, by comparison, is highly personalized and aims at enhancing the performance of individuals or perhaps small teams. Whereas consulting is largely informational, coaching is heavily inspirational and "skill-formational."

Consultants focus primarily on externals — processes and activities which outsiders can observe and monitor. Coaches, however, have a deeper agenda, commonly probing the client's inner world to examine the client's

  • goals and aspirations
  • ethos and values
  • level of confidence
  • sense of competency
  • inner fulfillment

Personal coaching may occur as part of a larger consultancy in which the coach doubles as a consultant. Thus, the line between coaching and consulting is sometimes a bit blurred. Coaching, however, always involves a commitment between the coach and a specific individual in which they agree to

  • be accountable to each other
  • work jointly work toward specific outcomes which enlarge the client's personal options and capabilities
  • maximize the client's ownership responsibility for achieving those outcomes

To put this another way, companies hire business consultants to bring them solutions. The purpose of coaching is to help people uncover and implement their own solutions. Both coaches and consultants help you build the business you want. Coaches, however, also help you have the career and life you want.

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