By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching (TPIIC)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Are you a coach or a consultant?

What an interesting question… this topic surfaced when I was recently talking with one of our instructional mentors, aka the coach’s coach, in the work she was doing. So, I decided to do a little thinking about the business sector to see the definition of each and if I agreed.
Initially, I thought about how I would define the two terms and realized that to the inexperienced, the two terms probably seem interchangeable. But, they really are not… in coaching, there is no expert. The coach’s role is to help the “coachee” reach his/her fullest potential by being a learner and deciding the goals and direction to pursue. The coach helps the learner be the architect of the learning; they don’t “tell” the individual what is needed or identify the goals for him/her. There is no “should” in coaching; there is only, “what if” in a coaching interaction. There is a partnership that is formed for the purpose of resolving issues so that practice can move forward. The coach’s goal is targeted on the individual, i.e., how the coach helps the teacher enhance practice.
In consulting, an outsider is brought to the table to identify the “errors” and to “fix” the situation. There is no experimentation; they are there to make the right decisions and to give the answers so the problems are solved. The consultant’s goal focuses on the task at hand; that is, here is the problem and here is the solution… do it! They are not there to encourage collaboration; they are there to present solutions to an exposed problem.
Forbes states that “Coaching can help turn an entrepreneur into a great leader. Consulting provides that much-needed expertise and assistance. Oftentimes, the lines between coaching and consulting can get blurred, creating a situation that is not effective at providing what the client actually needs.”
What are you… a coach or a consultant?