How is a coach different from a… Consultant
Consultants have an agenda and some possible answers, and bring that agenda and those answers to the client. They are experts in certain fields. Coaches, on the other hand, have no agenda except to help the client get what he/she wants. Although coaches have specializations in certain fields, their true expertise is in the coaching process. The main difference is that the consultant promotes himself or herself as the expert in certain aspects of life, and the coach accepts that the client is the expert and has within him/her the answers to situations he/she may face. However there will be times when a coach acts like a consultant, suggesting new ideas from his or her intuition, knowledge, and experience. Unlike the consulting relationship, the coaching stays with and “partners” with the client to help implement a plan they both develop. Coaches not only help bring about effective change; they do whatever they can to help the client do what he/she says he/she will do. A consultant usually does not participate in the type of relationship and leaves the client to implement the plan of action on his or her own. A coach is a trusted advisor who provides a confidential and safe environment in which the client can explore his/her issues and concerns.
It’s great to have a role model who has “been there and done that” and will “show us the ropes,” but a coach does not use his/her personal experience as a model of success for the client. The client is the expert on his/her life. The coach is the expert on the coaching process and helps the client even without firsthand knowledge of what the client has experienced.
Therapists typical functions are to help the client fix problems, overcome issues, and sometimes manage mental illness. Coaches do not work with mental illness nor spend much time on client issues or problems. In fact, coaches do not see anything as a problem, only as an opportunity. Coaches focus on solutions. They do not dwell on the client’s past nor try to analyze behavior. Clients may come to realizations that the past is correctly affecting the present situation, but this information usually comes from the clients themselves. The past is only the focus of the coaching as a learning and growing tool, and if part of the present situation. Coaching does not start in the past, nor stays there, but releases the energy the past has on the client so that they can move forward. In summary, the therapist usually helps the client figure out “why,” while the coach helps the client focus on “how.”
Although professional coaching does have its roots in sports and there are many similarities, professional coaching is not based on competition or focus on winning or losing scenarios. Coaches’ focus on bringing out one’s best but not to beat someone else. Contrary to sports coaching, professional coaching helps people think and create win-win scenarios for all involved.
We all know the value of a best friend. But is your best friend a trained professional who you can trust to work with on the most important aspects of your life – without giving you his/her personal advice? Let’s face it, friends usually have their own agenda and, more often than not, they are all too happy to tell you what you should do. Also, friends may not point out various issues you should be addressing, for fear of hurting your feelings. Coaching is a collaborative effort that is solely based on what the client wants and thinks he/she would like to do. Unlike a best friend, coaches are objective and nonjudgmental.