The short answer is no! There’s a distinct difference between a coach and a consultant. Knowing and understanding this difference will help you when you seek outside support for your business or personal life. Usually a consultant is brought in to analyse your business, tell you what needs to be done, to show you how to do it and then leaves. On the other hand, a coach considers your problems and challenges and works with you to discover solutions, staying with you until the process is completed. A consultant will tell you what to do in a specific area, i.e. marketing or business development, whereas a coach works with you in all areas of your business and personal life in an integrated way.
A coach assists you to achieve what you really want, implement what you already know, consistently take inspired actions and suggest new things for you to experiment with. A coach provides encouragement, helps you stay focused and shortens your learning curve.
An apt example of the difference between a coach and a consultant, is the analogy of learning to ride a bike.
A consultant will tell you how to ride a bike. When you decide you want to ride a bike, a coach will run along beside you to provide support.
A consultant knows how to ride a bike and will explain it to you using the laws of physics and anatomy. A consultant will tell you where to sit, where to put your feet, when to pedal and change gears, how to balance and how to maintain your bike. The consultant will then leave you to put the theory into practice.
A coach encourages you to ride a bike, staying with you and helping you to implement your new skill. The coach will ask lots of questions to determine whether you have everything you need to succeed. Coaches encourage you to practise until you master the skill and give a helping hand when you’re stuck. They will listen to what feels right for you, understand you and then work with you to take inspired actions. Coaches will share their knowledge with you, applaud your success and add some fun and laughter to the process. They will be there with you, encouraging you even when the road gets tough.
Coaching is an ongoing partnership which helps clients to achieve fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Throughout the process, clients deepen their learning and implement it, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life. Coaching accelerates your progress by providing greater focus and awareness. It concentrates on where you are now and where you want to be.
In what ways can coaching and consulting work well together? There are many ways in which both can work for some people. In general, a coach is not an expert in any particular field, so at this point a consultant may be useful. Through being coached, one of my clients realised that he needed advice about his data management. Although I understood what the client needed, I am not an expert and suggested a consultant should be called in. That consultant analysed what was needed in this particular area only and offered advice as to what needed doing. As the coach, I continued to work with the client to implement this advice, overcoming any obstacles along the way while still moving the whole company forward.
Coaching works on the entire person, asking for growth and change. Coaching does not analyse. It helps normal human beings to achieve what they want faster and more effectively. A coach listens and encourages, without telling you what to do. The whole concept of coaching is that you already have the answers you need. A coach helps you to find them by listening and asking pertinent questions, thus leaving you connected to your own personal power.
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