What is the difference, and which is the best fit for you and your organization?
If you are looking for assistance with a specific problem or project, you are most likely in the market for a consultant. If you are seeking to build your own leadership skills, then a leadership or executive coach may be what you are looking for.
There are key differences between these two roles that you should be aware of in your search. A consultant has specific professional expertise to solve a problem or to help with a project. Examples of this may include creating values, vision and mission statements for your organization, analyzing customer experience journeys, or developing a protocol to respond to online reviews. In short, a consultant can diagnose a problem and offer a solution (or solutions) for your specific situation.
An effective coach will empower you as you explore your own leadership potential and discover how you can grow and achieve your goals. A coach can help you assess your own leadership style, address topics such as inclusivity, or help you navigate important areas such as fostering creativity and motivation for your team. Executive coaches will often have some sort of counseling experience, or certification that promotes professionalism. In contrast to a consultant who may be more directional in nature, a coach will spend much of the time questioning and listening as you use time to focus on yourself and your professional presence. This should provide you with skills to develop as a leader for the long run. Anyone can benefit from a qualified professional coach. This can pay off in dividends.
Whatever the case, be sure that you hire a professional. Ask around for referrals. Interview your candidate(s) before you hire anyone. Coaching can help you to develop your skills as you become a great leader. Consulting, on the other hand, gives you immediate expertise to figure out a current challenge or direction and assistance to help you on a current project. Both roles are important and can assist you in creating positive outcomes for you, your team, and the future.