Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for August, 2013

Difference Between Coaching and Consulting

——Originally Published on 8/20/13 in the Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY—Difference between a coach, consultant…by Donna Rawady

In today’s business environment coaching and consulting are common practices. But what’s the difference between the two?

Coaching refers to the act and art of helping someone discover their own untapped potential for growth and success. Effective coaches are great facilitators who ask probing and effective questions that engage the client to partner with the coach to explore the power behind the client’s own knowledge, intuition, and capabilities.

In addition, coaching provides a process and framework for the self-initiated and a welcomed accountability towards one’s own professional and/or personal development. A coach works one-on-one with a client over time to assess professional development goals and needs, and. to provide consistent support if the client discovers and applies new strategies for success. This coach, however, if equipped, may take on a consulting role if a need for consulting or “telling” arises.

By definition, consulting refers to the act of providing recommendations, strategies or solutions based on the consultant’s expert perspective. Unlike coaches, consultants are expected to tell the client what to do, and often deal with an immediate need or problem for which they have a high level of business experience.
They probe, listen, evaluate the situation, clarify the goal or problem, and advise the client on how to fix something or reach a goal. The consultant, however, may take on a coaching role while supporting the client as they implement recommended strategies.

The differences between coaching and consulting are clear. And if we’re equipped to do both, the challenge may be to remind ourselves when it’s important to ask and when it’s important to tell.

For the moment, I’m eight-years-old and lining up my crayons.

I was in Chicago on a business trip with a client years ago. We went to the craft store in the evening to purchase some mixed media for a creative and experiential team building session we were facilitating the following day. As I was perusing the store shelves I came across an enormous display of crayons—small to big boxes, flat-colored to sparkled, pastel to hot colors, etc. And what do you think I was immediately compelled to do? I picked up a box, flipped open the top and smelled them, of course! I instantly tapped into my memories of being a kid when I was so excited to take my brand new crayons out of the box and line them up on the floor—in perfect order—by color and tints.

In the store there was a young girl standing next to me who was also mesmerized by the volume of crayons on the shelf. I shared with her that I liked the smell of them and that I hadn’t colored in a very long time. She immediately blurted out: “I know!! There’s nothing like coloring, right?!”. And with that I bought a small box of crayons and a coloring book. Back in my hotel room that night in the midst of a crazy travel and work schedule and my share of stressors, I took my crayons and coloring book out and I colored. I was amazed at how relaxing it was. I remember that it served as a great interruption to my work and travel rituals and it shifted my mindset and renewed my energy.

You’re free to interrupt your rituals intentionally when you feel a need for a shift in your current mindset or mood. You can use some small play activity that taps into a positive past experience. Or, if you’re feeling weary and you’re hunched in your chair at your desk you can interrupt your “tired” ritual by abruptly throwing your shoulders back into a confident and energized posture to instantly remind your body and mind how good it feels to center there.

So I assure you that I’ll keep coloring as I offer these reminders to you—and to myself: Remember to play. Remember the power behind interrupting your ritual in some small way. Help your body and mind remember how good the good stuff feels.