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What is the difference between a coach / consultant / mentor/  facilitator / trainer?

The business consultant/coach wears many hats depending on the client situation. Often, they are used interchangeably without people understanding the differences. This article has been written to define the difference between a coach/a consultant/a mentor/a facilitator.

Once the difference is clear you can establish which type of management consultant or business coach you are best speaking to.

What is a Business Coach?

A business coach will support you in identifying your professional ambitions and developing a plan to achieve them. A business coach should be able to listen intently and enable you to think freely for yourself, the best business coaches then coach through frameworks allowing you to act.

As a business owner or director this could mean clarifying your vision (define) for the company, understanding the present position (engage) and supporting you in the journey towards that vision (deliver).

The business coach is not a management consultant, whilst the best business coaches are trained to use a number of tools and techniques, they should be coaching the client through them. By empowering the client to develop their own capability in their own space the results are more powerful.

What is a Management Consultant

A classic management consultant is trained across a range of tools that analyse a business; the management consultant then creates a plan (strategy document) which is presented to the client. The client is then responsible for the implementation of this plan.

So, what value is the management consultant providing? The business consultant is providing a plan of action but without developing the capability of the client to implement this can be of little value. The reputation of traditional management consultants has suffered as a result of this

What is a Facilitator

A business coach or management consultant may take the role of facilitator to support and guide a client through a project. Typically, this revolves around listening and questioning to provoke and move the team towards their objectives. This is one of the skills that business coaches posses that may be lacking in a pure management consultant.

What is a Trainer

A trainer is brought into a situation where the client lacks the technical skills they require to move forwards. What the trainer is providing is upskilling in a particular area or concept, there is no element of coaching, this is purely explaining how to do something.

As business coaches we try and avoid pure training because people learn better by coaching through a concept rather than simply showing them it.

What is a Mentor

A mentor is typically an experienced businessman or woman who has a vast amount of experience behind them. A mentor will challenge on ideas and decision making, whilst they create thought provoking conversations these are typically drawn from their own experience and have an element of bias to them.

Aspiring business leaders often engage business mentors to focus on long term personal development rather than coaching which focuses on challenges of today. As business coaches, part of our skillset is mentoring clients; we help them develop their long term goals and support them in getting there. These can be both personal and business goals.

In answering what is a business coach/consultant/mentor/facilitator hopefully you can see there is a subtle variety of skillsets. Essentially a business coach or business consultant can wear many hats and possesses a range of experience and skills. A great business coach will adapt their style to each client.

Now that you understand the difference, if you are considering engaging a business coach, management consultant or mentor then this link provides some scenarios to help you decide which is most suitable.

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