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#278: Coaching is Not Consulting

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I am an experienced consultant to management and I am looking to expand my services. Since I already consult to executive teams, executive coaching seems like a logical add-on. What do I need to know about executive coaching to get started selling this service?

Executive coaching can be a useful adjunct to management consulting. However, just like consulting is a profession with its own skills, behaviors, body of knowledge and competencies, coaching is also a distinct profession. One should not "do coaching" because they have experience working with individual executives.

There are similarities between coaching and consulting, just as there are similarities between auto repair and heart surgery. The client presents a problem or opportunity, the expert (consultant or coach) gathers information, diagnoses the situation, works with the client to formulate solutions, and implements or assists in implementation of the recommended solution. In most cases, an emphasis is on helping the client to build the capability to self-diagnose and sustain performance in the future.

The differences are important, however. Consultants often bring models and patterns from other industries, develop directive solutions to recommend to clients and, as frequently as not, are not involved in implementation for very long. Coaches help diagnose, develop solutions and support ongoing self diagnosis and sustained improvement. But the emphasis is on the client "doing a lot of the heavy lifting" and the coach doing less directed intervention. The coaching skills and perceptions are necessarily nuanced and rarely are the behavior and personality patterns in clients "just like my last client."

Tip: Each profession has its own association (The International Coach Federation or IMC USA), body of knowledge, practitioners, and base of literature. Just as effective consulting requires training and experience, so too should you seek specialized training and certification before you attempt to provide coaching.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  coaching  consultant role  consulting process  customer understanding  professionalism  roles and responsibilities  your consulting practice 

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