Coaching, Mentoring, Training, Consultancy. What’s the difference?

I recently met Pam, a very intelligent, outspoken and opinionated woman in a social entreprise meeting. Like many other people I’ve met since I got into coaching, she had heard of life coaching or business coaching and had made her own assumptions about it. I really enjoy the company of people like Pam and we engaged in an insightful conversation about coaching and then social entreprise. But I realised that it was time to write this post. People are  usually either aware or oblivious to their confusion between coaching and the other human development professional fields such as training, mentoring or consultancy. Indeed coaching is none of these things.

Coaching has now evolved to one of several professions aiming to help people reach their potential. Its remit is to assist those who are considered well (as opposed to ill) to grow and excel both in their personal and professional lives.

Coaching draws out rather than puts in. It develops rather than imposes. It reflects rather than directs. Clients expand their awareness beyond previously imagined limits. As a result, clients become increasingly proactive, rather than passive, and increasingly creative, rather than reactive. The safe and supportive environment of coaching invites courage, openness, honesty and acceptance. The common denominators that I have been noticing in the fulfilling outcomes for my clients and others are Direction, Motivation and Self-Awareness. Those are life skills that allow you live your life “switched on” and in charge. You get to realise your own power and strenght to deal with any aspect aspect of your life.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail” – -Abraham Maslow

Sometimes the problem IS a nail, so you’re totally equipped to deal with it. Perfect. But unlike a mentor, a life coach does not to give advice nor teaches from experience of having done a particular kind of work (or having used a particular tool). Similarly, a consultant is a specialist in his or her field. A coach is not required to be an expert in any particular field other than coaching. Coaching facilitates mental agility and expansion of choices.  A great coach is an expert at that.

Granted, in practice, rules can be broken, lines blurred or crossed over, shortcuts taken but if you are coached, or if you coach people, don’t let anything else but this happen!

Knowing what coaching is, we can understand that a coach’s toolbox contains models, methods, strategies, tools and techniques that underline coaching processes and its purpose; mainly: listening, questioning, observation, reflection, feedback, results, commitment, motivation, direction, self-awareness. The coach has access to a wide range of approaches, tools and techniques to assist their client with whatever arises. Find out what it takes to be great coach!

Some Coaching niches

Life coaching can cover numerous life situations, such as:-

  • Building confidence & self-esteem
  • Communication skillsSetting up/growing a business
  • Career focus/change
  • Life Planning
  • Decision-making
  • Strategic Planning
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Relationships
  • Spirituality
  • Emotional & destructive behaviours
  • Wealth/Finances
  • Fun/Social commitments
  • Life Mission/Purpose
  • Environmental impact
  • Family
  • Leadership
  • Mid-life
  • Retirement
  • Time management
  • Stress management

Hope this cleared things up! Wanna know more about coaching and join me on the Coaching-Is-Awesome campaign? Download “Your GDL Coaching Guide” for FREE! ;-)

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