Audio podcast: The difference between business coaching and consulting

January 04, 2011


Chris Bjorklund: Hello, I’m Chris Bjorklund for the Business Resource Center. Today, I’m talking to business coach Steve Rosebaugh, president of Focal Point Coaching. A lot of really smart CEOs, Steve, hire business consultants because they want to improve their businesses but they don’t really understand how a business coach might be able to help them too. What are some ways that coaches are really different from your other paid advisers?

Steve Rosebaugh: That’s a great question. Let me first start by saying that the primary purpose of a consultant is to bring expert answers to your specific question or challenge that they’re having in their business and, in most cases, they also do some of the work required to produce some kind of specific deliverable result in the company. It’s a very directive style where they bring solutions into the business. Good examples might be CPAs or attorneys or maybe insurance agents. These are really viewed as solution experts in their area of practice. And a business really needs to have these experts to be successful so it’s appropriate. However, in a small business, they seldom have the broader knowledge or awareness of the whole business and I often think of small and medium-sized businesses like a spider web. You change one thing, it has effects all around and hopefully the intended ones are hopefully not the unintended ones but they definitely have effects. And so some of these consultants don’t always have an awareness of the whole business so that can be an issue where a coach really has the advantage. A business coach really is an expert asking the right questions. They can draw out the best answers that fit that owner, that company, that situation at that moment in time. It’s really a nondirective approach and it’s intended to draw out the best solutions from the owner. So coaches are really experts at the business of business and the application of those proven methods. That’s really different.

Chris: I love that differentiation that you just made. I think that really makes a lot of sense and I’m wondering if there’s anything else that really makes coaching different from consulting?

Steve: Oh sure. And I talk about this all the time but I think one of the key things a coach does that you don’t find anywhere else is they provide accountability and that helps the owners make changes and achieve results faster than they would on their own. It’s really about making commitments to their goals and then in achieving results that the business needs but what about those reach-out goals? The business leader may develop some really compelling goals for themselves personally or even for the company that are outside of the day to day operation of business. There’s seldom anyone they can depend on for supportive accountability on these most important goals.

Chris: It’s funny you mentioned these goals because I think it’s human nature to just procrastinate about things. What we think we want to do or what we’re hoping we can do, sometimes, there’s no one just to really hold our feet to the fire.

Steve: Oh, we all do better with that. We may not like it at the moment but we look back and we’re really excited about the fact that we were able to achieve something significant, much faster than maybe we thought we were going to.

Chris: Now, is there anything else that you want to add here about how your coach might be different from one of your consultants?

Steve: Well, I think it’s important to add this other element and that is, if you look at some of these other consultants, whether it’s CPAs or attorneys, they tend to be transaction-based advisers. Their advice is valuable and they really are good at what they do but when you go to them seeking answers, they’re going to tend to guide you to the transactions that they know and they’d be the right answer but because they’re transaction-based advisers, that’s what they know. They may not be aware of other alternatives that could be better. So no one really understands the whole business as well as the owner and his coach, his or her coach. It’s been said that the consultant is paid to bring great answers while a coach is paid to bring great questions. So coaching is much more personal. It’s really a relationship-based adviser as opposed to a transaction-based adviser and this relationship between coach and a client is very personal. It even supersedes the organization of a company.

Chris: I love that point about the coach bringing in great questions. I just think that’s really something to sit there and think about, if you’re planning or just wondering if you need a coach, it just might be the right thing. Thanks, Steve.

Steve: Thank you.

Chris: You’ve been listening to Steve Rosebaugh, president of Focal Point Coaching. The Business Resource Center is a free resource for all businesses made possible by the Business Bank of Texas. I’m Chris Bjorklund, thanks for listening.

Topics: Featured, Business Best Practices, Management

Steve Rosebaugh

Steve Rosebaugh Consulting

Successful, high performing teams are guided by well-tuned and motivating managers. Now a best-selling author on, Steve Rosebaugh has managed and led high performance teams for more than 20 years, guiding his organizations through transition and challenge while bringing results during the most difficult of times. His experience is changing the lives and results of his clients today. An engineering graduate of the University of Illinois, Steve Rosebaugh has experience managing change in both technology and business. With a strong diversity of business experience within the complex semiconductor industry, Steve’s background includes design, product engineering, manufacturing, quality, product management, and marketing. Steve also has international experience having spent three years in a large manufacturing center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Working in both small and large companies, Steve has been successful in many functions, including: key account management, project management, conflict resolution, and operations management. He has been recognized by leading customers and has also been published both domestically and internationally in well-known industry publications. Steve lives in Austin, has been married for over 30 years, and has three grown children.
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