What’s the difference between a coach, a consultant and a mentor?

Coaches, Advisors/Mentors, Consultants are roles that get confused and poorly utilized.

Here’s a way to look at defining the different roles.  (The Alliance provides all three of them!)

Coaches facilitate the development of personal or professional objectives.

The coach doesn’t provide you with the answers to a challenge or even tell you what to do.

Instead the coach acts as a facilitator to help you ask better questions, and explore your own answers.

They serve as a guide while you create a plan, define outcomes, and experiments to move your thinking forward.

Think “facilitator” and “action-oriented.”

Mentors or Advisors give advice or assistance in a specific area to those with less experience

For example, when mentoring a new CEO, someone that has served as a CEO may cover specific techniques in dealing with a Board of Directors or Strategy development.

The Advisor can provide tools that and resources that are available to CEO’s and Boards.

Mentors may even advise on the skills needed to move up to the next level in a client’s career.

However, unlike a coach who helps a client discover their own answers, a mentor teaches, sharing their experiences and knowledge on industry related questions and challenges.

Think  “advisor” and “teacher.”

Consultants are brought in to answer specific questions or address specific challenges for an organization.

They provide recommendations — based on their own experience, market trends, research, and many other inputs  — and are often asked to be responsible for implementing those recommendations within the client’s organization.

Again, a key distinction from coaches is that a consultant provides the answer — and may even own delivering it —  while a coach helps you facilitate your own answers.

Think “problem solver” and “implementer.”

Leaders need all three support roles at various times.

Good coaching provides actionable insight and opportunity for growth based on specific areas the client intends to improve; be it better decision-making, problem-solving, or conflict management and negotiation.

Not every situation an executive faces requires a Coach, but having a Coach available for every situation is valuable.

You can read more about our executive coaching services here: Executive Coaching or contact us to book a consultation.