Coach vs. Consultant: What’s the Difference?

Written By Danielle Fauteaux

The primary distinction between a coach and a consultant is which party is in control of the choices being made.

The Essence of a Coach

A good coach will offer insights that you may not see clearly until your attention is focused on that matter. A good coach will ask good questions that allow you to form a new perspective. A good coach pushes you to strive for more than you think you can achieve.

A good coach will be your #1 fan. They believe in you more than you believe in yourself. A good coach will drive you bonkers sometimes, because they just never seem to let up on you. “Gosh, just give me a break already!”

A coach will have guidance and recommendations for technique and navigating the competitive landscape based on what they know to be true, but a coach will not force you into a certain application of techniques.

Coaches provide resources, exercises, and opportunities for you to grow and develop yourself.

A good coach will celebrate your victories with you and will also be there when things aren’t going as well as hoped. They want to see you succeed, whether conventionally or unconventionally, whether in the ways they see best fit or in the ways the client chooses.

How Consultants Differ

A consultant’s approach leans more prescriptive (solutions), while a coach’s approach leans more diagnostic (questions).

If we’re being honest, though, consultants do a bit of a coaching and coaches do a bit of consulting. Different clients need different levels of prescriptive versus diagnostic aid. There are shared attributes even considering their core differences. (For example, I’d consider the marketing strategy work I do to be more consultative, while the coaching work I do is, well, coaching. 😉)

In many cases, it seems as though consultants want to box you into one way of doing something for your business. I find that this “one-size-fits-all” approach works just about as well as it would if shoes were sold that way.

A coach may have a framework (different sizes and styles of shoe), which differs from a consultant’s formula (THE shoe for all).

You’re an individual, just as your agency is individual. There are a wide range of similarities, yes, and there is general counsel that applies across business sizes and industries, but the nuances of your business must not be forgotten.

What worked for their business, at that point in time, given their market conditions, personality, and an infinite number of other variables may not work for your business. Working with a consultant can feel like striving for an unreachable outcome.

Consultants have the best of intentions in this approach. It worked so well for them, and they want to share that with you so you can follow in their footsteps. It just never is quite the same, now, is it?

Oftentimes, with the work of consultants, you need to chew on the meat, and spit out the bones. There’s still nourishment to be had, but mind the bones.

Working with a Coach

As a coach, it’s not about me. It’s not about what I think you should do. It’s about what you choose to do with the options in front of you.

You make the choices.

You’re in control of your direction.

The path may vary. It may be a short path. It may be a long, winding path. There may be a simple dirt road with just a few crossroads to evaluate, or there may be hectic 12 lane interstate to avoid crashing and burning on. Whatever your case, I’m here with you as we get you to your destination.

Building a successful marketing agency takes grit, a focus on your value, and sometimes a *loving* kick in the pants.

Needing an ally as you achieve your long-term goals?

I’d be happy to help.

Danielle Fauteaux, Agency Coach

Danielle Fauteaux

Hi! I’m Danielle. I’m passionate about helping creatives recognize their value and place in this world, passionate about helping leaders regain control over their responsibilities, passionate about encouraging others to live more meaningful lives; and passionate about doing more with less. I guide creative firms through the Momentum Framework to achieve their revenue and profit goals while falling back in love with the mission they originally set out with.