If there were any doubts in your mind that these two professions were different then this hopefully will not only eliminate those doubts but also give you insight into each profession.
Let us look at the online definitions of each profession:
A consultant is a professional that provides expert advice in a particular domain or area of expertise such as accountancy, information technology, the law, human resources, marketing, medicine, finance or more esoteric areas of knowledge, for example engineering and scientific specialties such as materials science, instrumentation, avionics, and stress analysis
Coaching is a process providing an individual with feedback, insight and guidance on achieving their full potential in their business or personal life. Coaching has gained popularity in managing ADD, coaches provide support, encouragement and help in daily living skills.
First of life and executive coaching is a fairly new profession, in the coaching industry, in comparison to sports coaches for example. While mentoring and tutoring have been around for a long time. Unfortunately when coaching was spreading it wings and about to take off a few consultants did exactly what they tell other to do, so they started calling themselves coaches in hope of catching on to a new “fad”. Don´t take me wrong I have nothing against consultants. In fact I used to be and still do consulting work. But I have a theory that states, do not tell people you are a doctor when you are a nurse. Misleading people is not to your advantage for marketing purposes and sooner or later you will come out as for what you really are or do. So if you are like some of my clients that actually were looking for a coach but ended up with someone that kept trying to give them advice, then you might have been talking to a consultant, not a coach.
Let us get to the point of what the difference is, a consultant will “tell” you what the best solutions are according to his expertise. So for example if you run into a problem that you need to solve the consultant will help you find the “best” solution.
A life coach or executive coach on the other hand will work with you in finding the “best” solutions for you, even though it may not always be the most logical one according to what an expert would tell you in regards to what you should do. A coach will help you grow and determine what way will bring you personal and professional growth as a person as well as a business. One of the fundamentals of coaching is that everyone has the resources they need to succeed, the coach will help you tap into those resources. A consultant on the other hand may already have resources at hand and will just implement them into your problem, thus you may get a solution without personal growth.
One of the clear distinctive differences you can catch immediately when talking to these two professions is that the consultant will tell you what the solutions is. The coach will ask you and work with you in finding the right solutions for you. You might say that a consultant will be the “Teller” while the coach will primarily be an “Asker”.
Some major differences between being a life coach or executive coach and a consultant is of course the fact stated above that one will tell you while the other one asks. Questions have power within them and coaches are specialists in utilizing questions. Rarely will you find a coach the tells you what to do, rather they will work with you and ask you what you want to do, and then work with you in finding a way to do it. Life coaches of course can work as consultants and some consultants can work as coaches. The line between these two professions can therefore often be very thin. Yet those who understand fully what the difference between life coaching and consultants is, know that those differences are enormous and lead you to very different personal results.
Consulting is a great business to be in and they can be very good to seek out as well. If you are looking to help people solve their problems or looking to have your problems solved, by using your expertise to finding the most rational or most effective solution.
If you are a problem solver this is a profession you will not only thrive in, you will most likely be doing it with passion. You will have many clients that are looking for solutions to their problems, both personal and business.
If you on the other hand want to be a coach, or seek a coach, he will work with you in growing personally and professionally, tapping into your full potential and help you utilize the tools that are already within you. If you enjoy working with people and want to help people excel no matter what they are taking on, coaching is definitely the path for you.
You might say that a consultant will do the work for you, while a coach will be there working with you. Which one do you think you will benefit more from to the long run?