As a business coach, I am often mistaken for a business "consultant". I am quick to make the distinction of the stark contrasts between the two professions.

Before I dive into the differences between the professions, it is important to note that they do have at least one thing in common: both business consultants and business coaches are agents of change. They have been hired to help move an individual, group or company from where they currently are to where they want to be. The differences lie in the inherent relationship between the client and the consultant/coach and the tactics used to achieve change.

Let's look at this in more detail.


• The biggest difference between coaching and consulting falls under the category of accountability. In my opinion, 50% of the results one gets from coaching is a result of the coach holding their clients accountable to the actions they pledged to take. This dynamic is completely missing from the consulting relationship.


• Another powerful attribute of coaching that is missing from the consultant relationship is its collaborative nature (between the client and the coach). It is a relationship between equals. Consulting is rarely collaborative nor a partnership of equals.

Specialization / Expertise

• Consultants are specialists or experts. They are hired to analyze and make recommendations based on their expertise. A coach does not need to be an expert. Many of the most effective coaches you will ever meet are generalists. They employ their natural curiosity, ability to ask great questions and actively listen in order to guide their clients toward their own conclusions while helping them create a plan of attack.

Breadth of Engagement

• Consultants typically work within precise, narrow parameters and deliver a very specific recommendation, report or deliverable. A coaching engagement is more fluid with very few predefined avenues in which to take. A coach looks at all areas of the business and supports their clients through a process. They evaluate, guide, motivate and help improve both their client and the business.

Term of Engagement

• A good coach is purposefully trying to make himself obsolete. A consultant leaves once a specific project is completed.


• A coach often acts as a teacher or trainer helping their clients to make improvements. A consultant delivers a report telling their clients what the consultant thinks they should do.
• Coaching does NOT involve making a diagnosis or giving advice. Good coaches shun the words "you should...."
• A coach encourages their clients to set their own agenda, reach their own conclusions and set their own plans of action. A consultant provides their own opinion, reaches their own conclusion and delivers their own plan of attack.

While coaches and consultants have in common their broad mission as agents of change, the bottom line is consultants do not coach and coaches should not consult.

Author's Bio: 

Shawn Brodof is the President and Head Coach of Clarity Coaching and the author of The Termite Effect - 25 Common Business Mistakes and Their Hidden Consequences. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, he is dedicated to improving the lives of business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals by helping them take their business to the next level. He is passionate about helping his clients capture their opportunities and overcome their obstacles while providing clarity, structure and accountability.

His coaching programs include one-on-one, group coaching and boot camps all with a focus on developing viable plans-of-attack that enable his clients to reach their goals through a process of incremental improvements.

He is also a keynote speaker, adjunct professor at Catawba College, and trainer offering training and workshops on various business-related topics.

He can be reached at: