The Differences Between Coaching and Consulting


If you’ve ever embarked on a search for a consultant or a coach to provide guidance for your growing business or personal venture, you might’ve been left feeling a little confused. Is a coach a consultant? A consultant a coach? What is the difference between the two, anyway? As it turns out, a lot more than you would think. About the only thing these terms have in common is that they both start with the letter “c”!

So, if you need some coaching on consulting, or some consulting on coaching, prepare to be schooled on both.

A consultant is typically an individual that possesses highly skilled expertise in and knowledge of a specific field, such as marketing, engineering or information technology. Consultants are regarded as experts in their craft, and are hired to provide insight, guidance and advice to their clients.

A coach, in the business sense, is someone who regularly engages with their clients to help them become more effective leaders. In lieu of providing expertise in a specific field, coaches provide broader guidance in helping clients achieve their goals by looking inward and drawing their own conclusions. They take on more of an instructor or guide type of role, whereas consultants act as an advisor to your business.

Sheryl Lyons is Founder & President of CultureSpark, a Houston-based firm with a focus on improving company culture. As both a coach and consultant, Lyons is familiar with the similarities between the two, and also what separates them.

“In consulting, you’re a subject matter expert, and provide solutions based on your expertise,” says Lyons. “The consultant is the hero. In coaching, you’re a process expert who serves the client and the client’s agenda within a coaching process or framework. You use your background and expertise in coaching to inform your questions. In coaching, the client is the hero.”

Whether you need a coach or a consultant will depend greatly on your specific needs, personally and professionally. There’s a good chance you will need to utilize services from both, either concurrently or at different points in the business life cycle. If you’re unsure of which is right for you, we’re here to help – contact us, and let’s set up some time to discuss your unique needs and those of your business to determine whether coaching or consulting is the best course of action to turn your goals into reality.

That’s our spark, what’s yours?