What is the Difference between coaching and consulting?

According to the definition of the leading coaching associations, coaching in business is the professional advice, support of people with leadership / control responsibilities and of experts in companies and organizations. The objective of coaching is the development of individuals or collective learning in teams for professional or personal concerns.

As a form of professional advice, coaching aims to maintain and enhance performance. Coaching is always result- and solution-oriented. The success is verifiable and measurable. A key feature of professional coaching is the enhancement of self-reflection as well as the self-directed expansion of the coachee’s capabilities in terms of perception and behavior. The individual development goals are in the foreground. In coaching, the coachee is encouraged to develop his/her own solutions that suit his/her situation and personality. There are no solutions offered by someone else, like in consulting. The coachee learns to recognize and solve his/her problems independently. As a result, he/she automatically embraces the solution. The coaching process empowers the coachee to develop his/her attitudes and behaviors in such a way that he/she achieves effective results and can use new techniques that lead to problem- solving in the future.

On the other hand, consulting is mainly used to resolve business or technical problems through interaction between a consultant and a client seeking advice. This often involves questions of organisational design, financial key figures or the definition and implementation of problem-solving processes.

Both coaching and consulting have their respective advantages and provide successful means. While consulting provides expert knowledge, enables best practice comparisons, and ensures quick solutions with the help of an expert, the client is the expert in a coaching process. He/she has all the resources to solve his/her problem and only he/she has the knowledge of what the right solution and the desired change is. Learning through coaching takes place applying the one’s most ideal solution supported by the coaching process and the coach, whereas the consultant delivers ready-made solutions on the basis of the client’s premises. Both consulting and coaching are justified and can be used in a compatible way.

By Klaus Mayerhanser

Executive Search Consultant for Telecommunications, IT & Consumer Electronics

Klaus Mayerhanser is a founding partner and Managing Director of DELTACON Executive Search. With his team, he is responsible for the telecommunications, information technology and consumer electronics sectors and heads our office in Munich. In addition to his Executive Search Consulting activities, he has ten years of operational management experience in sales and marketing functions within the ICT industry.