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Do you need a Coach or a Consultant?

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

it all depends ... you may be needing both.

This question has been asked by many people, do we bring in consultants or coaches to help the organization? And the answer to that questions depends greatly on how the organization wants to address those issues they face. Let’s look at what our options are.

In a nutshell

Consulting requires that the consultant have a certain level of expertise in the area that the client seeks resolution. The consultant provides specific advice and often teaches and train the client certain skill sets, bring a toolkit to apply in the organization and often delivers specific knowledge aimed to assist with a very specific problem, enhancing as a result the performance of the organization.

A coach instead is not to provide solutions. Much on the contrary, a coach should be aiming to facilitate design thinking to enable the customer to find their own solutions. A coach, although often required to have some knowledge in the subject at hand, is not usually required to be an expert on it because the coach's role is not to be an expert. Instead a coach should be an expert at facilitating change, assisting the person, team or executives ask the deeper open-ended questions that often leads to customer centric solutions. Those solutions should always be developed by the client (person, team or executives being coached). During the coaching sessions, the coach will find itself being a mentor, a teacher and a mediator of conflict, but it should never offer a solution to the problem. That's what consultants are for.

So now what?

It really boils down to two things: Who has the knowledge, and who has the power. In consulting the consultant holds the power in the relationship because they are the experts in the area, while in coaching the client holds the power because ultimately the coach acts as a navigator, a GPS and puts the client on the driver's seat, making the decisions that will drive change and results.

However, even at times not even implicit in the intake conversations, a lot of companies have been looking for a combination of these solutions. Someone who has the right level of knowledge to have some credibility to influence their organization and could act to find the right solution for the problem at hand. This is referred to as Niche Coaching. Niche Coaching happens around a very specific type of goal that someone is uniquely skilled and able to address with clients.

You may ask, why, if consultants are experts in their specific area, some companies fail at applying those solutions in their organizations? Remember one thing ... buy-in happens when the organization make their own decisions with the right people involved. To those organizations that have struggled with those implementations, I would suggest taking a different approach and investigate what a team of coaches can offer. But if the solutions you are seeking are way far beyond your organizations know how, you may need a consultant after all.

Maybe, just maybe ... the right answer for some is a place in the middle.

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