Coaches typically adopt a facilitative and client-centred approach. Utilising active listening, powerful questioning, and supportive techniques to guide you through their thought processes and help you to gain clarity, explore possibilities, and generate your own solutions. Coaches act as catalysts, empowering you to take ownership of your actions and decisions.
Consultants, however, employ a more directive approach. I draw on my own expertise and industry knowledge to diagnose problems, analyse situations, and provide recommendations and solutions. We often take a more advisory role, actively guiding and implementing strategies to address specific challenges.
The relationship between a coach and a client feels more like a partnership and collaboration to establish a safe and trusting environment, focusing on building rapport and maintaining confidentiality. Coaches act as supportive allies, providing encouragement, accountability, and ongoing feedback. The coach-client relationship is built around building confidence in you to be able to take steps that have proved challenging so far.
The relationships I have with my client, while professional and supportive, tend to be more transactional. Many of my clients see me as an external advisor or even a problem solver. The emphasis is on delivering results within a defined timeframe. The client-consultant relationship is typically based on mutual agreement and the expectation of tangible outcomes.
Scope of the Role
Coaching engagements often take place over long periods of time, focusing on holistic development and personal growth. Coaches work with you to explore different areas of your life, identify strengths, overcome obstacles, and establish sustainable habits. Coaching relationships may be ongoing or based on a series of sessions tailored to your needs.
Consulting engagements, in contrast, are more project-based and time-limited. I am typically asked to address specific challenges, implement strategies, or improve certain aspects of your organisation. The scope of consulting engagements is often well-defined and results-oriented, with clear deliverables and milestones.