Archive January 28, 2020

Advisor, Consultant or Coach? What’s the Difference?


Advisors, consultants and coaches all exist to help you and/or your organization succeed. The relationship duration and focus varies. Consultants are project focused, an advisor guides and coaches support.


A consultant is called on to provide a solution to a specific short-term project. They have experience in solving for the problem you have.  Because of their experience, they’ve seen it/done it. Examples of consultant projects; developing a website, building out an accounting system, creating policies and procedures.

An advisor develops an on-going relationship and dispenses expert advice. Their expertise comes from skills and knowledge and experience. The depth of their subject knowledge is deep. They give advice and guidance through regular engagements. For instance, an advisor helps you to interpret and communicate financial results.

A coach teaches and guides you to develop or improve a skill. The successful coach knows how to nurture and hold you accountable.  Business Development and Sales, Employee Relations and management, are examples.

Is your current situation:

How to Engage an Advisor, Consultant or Coach

taking notes


Pre-meeting prep

First and most important: identify your needs, expectations, and your definition of a successful relationship. The more specific you are in your thoughts, the better the outcome.

  1. I have
    • a specific project to complete
    • a question on how to _________
    • a need to improve my _____ skills
  2. I expect this person to
    • Be available and responsive
    • Be approachable
    • Be knowledgeable
  3. I would define this relationship to be a success if ______________
  4. To be complete by_____
During the meeting:
  1. Are they focused and listening?
  2. Does it feel like a conversation, a discussion of ideas and solutions?
  3. How’s the chemistry? Are you in-sync and comfortable with their style?
  4. Often a skilled advisor, consultant or coach will listen to what is NOT being said and will follow through on those underlying emotions.
  5. Will they become a partner in helping you solve for success?
What are their credentials
  1. Do they have the expertise, training or experience for this situation?
  2. Trust is a key trait; without trust will you really follow through and be successful.
  3. Are they up on the current trends, and developments in the industry?


This relationship is one critical piece of your toolkit to success.

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