Executive Coach or Consultant? What are the Crucial Differences?

Successful executives strive to improve their organizations, their teams, and themselves. External experts can help accelerate those efforts and maximize results. Should you engage a consultant or an executive coach? The distinctions are vitally important but not always obvious. To help you examine what’s best for your particular situation, consider the differences between an executive coach and a consultant.

Consultants typically address specific business problems. They assess, analyze, and propose a solution. Consultants specialize in providing advice and making recommendations. In essence, they are paid to come up with answers and “fix” things.

For example, an organization dealing with an underperforming business unit or team might bring in a consultant who will assess the unit and its leadership. They will then recommend specific changes, such as reporting structures, executive leadership, team membership, and work-flow processes.

An executive coach takes a different approach. They work to develop professional capabilities and modify underlying behaviors to improve leadership skills and performance. Executive coaches do not come up with the answers for someone. They empower people to communicate, lead, and make their own decisions — to “fix” things themselves. An executive coach is a knowledgeable guide, leading their client along a path of self-discovery, insight, and action to incorporate tangle long-term change.

Using the example above, an executive coach would work with business unit executives, or the full team, to navigate a process of professional and leadership growth. The results enable executives, or the team, to make needed decisions and provide leadership to maximize performance on their own.

There’s no right or wrong choice. Your best option will depend upon your needs. But the old proverb applies: “Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.” Executive coaching teaches — serving as a catalyst for fundamental and empowering professional and personal growth.

To learn more about executive coaching and leadership development, contact us at [email protected] or 646.844.2233.

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