Coaching vs. Consulting: Find the Perfect Balance to Get Buy-in and Results | Chief Learning Officer – CLO Media
|Photo: Andrew Neitlich|
|Photo: Chief Learning Officer – CLO Media|
Chief learning officers should consult as well as coach stakeholders while partnering with business units to develop learning strategies. But to improve their influence and results they’ll need to clarify the difference between coaching and consulting, and find the right balance for each initiative they lead.
Both coaching and consulting begin with a well-defined problem, challenge or opportunity that is causing pain for the other party. That pain — including the pain of not seizing an opportunity and enjoying benefits — is what makes the other party receptive to coaching or consulting in the first place. If there is no pain, partners, peers and clients are unlikely to take interest.
The fundamental difference between the two is that coaching is more directive, encouraging the other person to arrive at and develop their own solutions independently. In a consulting role, the learning leader probes to understand the situation, diagnose issues, and analyze data — all in order to make recommendations, share best practices, and suggest solutions. In a coaching role, the learning leader steps back a bit. They ask powerful questions, joining in an open-ended inquiry with the stakeholder or internal client, to arrive at new ideas, insights and action steps together. Coaching is more of a dialogue.
There is significant overlap between the two skill sets. The best consultants almost always use coaching skills, specifically by asking questions and probing to understand the client’s issues in-depth, as well as discerning how receptive the client is to potential ideas. This type of inquiry helps the consultant to shape a solution the client is most likely to accept and implement.
Coaches generally only become directive after exploring issues in-depth with clients, with permission or when the client asks, and only when the coach has expertise the client might value. Coaching competencies emphasize asking powerful questions, listening actively, driving the client to choose their own solutions, then confirming and supporting accountability with action steps. The art of coaching is fundamentally about helping clients grow and develop their own capacity. If the CLO is flexible about the ultimate goal and how to get there, coaching is a fantastic way to secure buy-in and commitment by asking open-ended questions and challenging clients to come up with their own answers.
Source: Chief Learning Officer – CLO Media