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Coaching….the first picture that comes to mind is of Pulela Gopichand behind PV Sindhu or Andre Agassi cheering Novak Djokovic from the stands.

In the cut throat corporate world however, coaching takes on a new meaning. If you are an executive coach you would be dealing with the top people in an organization – the CEO, CXO, CFO etc.

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In any consulting firm, there are people who facilitate/train people who coach and people who consult. It’s typically a team of facilitators, consultants and coaches who provide their expertise to the clients.

A new joinee in my organizations asked me “what’s the difference between coaching and consulting? Can I do both? I said, “Well, definitely you can do both but there exists a difference between the two.”

Coaching borrows from the fields of Counselling, Psychotherapy and Consulting. Coaching starts with an ‘Alignment’ session in which the line manager, the person getting coached and the party who has sponsored the intervention is involved. It’s also called a chemistry session; typically a 90 minute one, between the coach and the person getting coached. If it doesn’t go well and there is a mismatch of expectations and outcome from the coaching the whole thing is called off.

Consulting involves giving solutions to organizational problems with different kind of interventions. The consultant gives you a report based on your problems and helps you with solutions. Normally a large group is involved here. The consultant interacts with a lot of people from the organization.

Consulting is usually problem focused whereas Coaching builds on a person’s strengths.

Coaching helps people discover their true potential. It helps people come up with their own solutions to their problems by discovering their own path. Once it’s done the coach moves on. A coach helps people create their own IDP’s (Individual Development Plans). The two most important things a coach should do are

  1. Listening well
  2. Asking questions

Consulting fixes the problem; the idea behind coaching is the development of the individual, not fixing of personality deficiencies. In coaching, ownership plays an important role. Coaching focuses on the goal model – what is a your current reality, what are the options available to face it, which ones would you choose, your will to go on that path, what is your commitment to succeed and overcome barriers.

In consulting the time is limited; it generally focuses on short-term and project oriented results. Coaching occurs over a period of time and is focused on long term results.

A coach builds relationship expertise and facilitates growth!

“Now you know which one you want to be” I exclaimed and he smiled.