The Top 3 Differences Between Executive Coaching and Consulting


The Top 3 Differences Between Executive Coaching and Consulting

Over the years, I have come across a lot of potential clients who have been gravely mistaken in thinking that the terms “executive coaching” and “business consulting” are one and the same, or simply put — synonymous to one another. This is not the case, as there are major difference between the two professions. As an Executive Coach and as an experienced management professional who has dealt with management consultants over the years, I am here today to highlight the top 3 key differences between the two so you can get gain a better understanding of what exactly those differences are and what they entail.

  1. Agenda. Executive Coaches have NO agenda but to help the client get what he or she wants. Other than that? None whatsoever. Although a coach definitely will have expertise in certain fields, whether that is HR Strategy, Operations Management, Psychology, etc., a coach’s main expertise is the process of coaching itself. On the flip side, business consultants do have an agenda and some possible solutions, and they bring those solutions and agendas to their clients. At the same time, they are experts in specific fields.
  1. Client is the ultimate expert. Although a coach can and may in certain circumstances, suggest ideas from his or her knowledge base, experiences or right from their intuition; an Executive Coach accepts that the client is the ultimate expert and has the power within him or her to the answers of the challenges the client faces. While on the other side, business consultants promote themselves as the experts in the challenges the clients are facing. However, the problems that the clients are usually facing are not something that business consultants will be able to address at all!
  1. Tasks. Management consultants help businesses improve their performance and grow by solving problems and finding new and better ways of doing things. While an executive coach will bring about the effective change the client is facing, they achieve this by helping through becoming a trusted advisor who promotes a confidential and safe environment in which the client will explore his or her concerns and issues. The executive coach will identify and focus on developmental issues, growth needs, leadership skills, behavioral traits, and goals at the executive level.

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What other differences can you add in? Please feel free to comment below. 



5 thoughts on “The Top 3 Differences Between Executive Coaching and Consulting

  1. Thanks. I get more and more coaching because I am CONFUSED. Now I find that because I am confused I make enquiries. That in turn increase my knowledge. The more knowledge I acquire I get more confused. Now I ACCEPT unconditionally that I am confused. Earlier my confusion was my BURDEN and I gave up confusion but not the burden. Now I go BEYOND.


    1. Radha, I love the way you express it. So many clients panic because of the confusion they feel but with a good coaching, they learn to accept that feeling confusion is normal but carrying the burden is not. Thanks for sharing.


  2. If we look at coaching from an evidence-based perspective, the literature shows that COACHING IS A SUB-SET OF CONSULTATION (Schein, 2006 in Goldsmith and Lyon). This conclusion stands on the shoulders of decades of other research and practice. For example, Margulies & Raia (1972) described a range of consultative roles on a continuum from the technical expert (e.g. giving advice) to the process facilitator. Lippett and Lippett (1986) described a continuum of consultant activity from non-directive to directive. If we are true to the literature, then the question is less about the distinction between coaching and consulting, and more about the distinction between coaching and advising. Your thoughts?


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