When Coaching ‘CALLS’ During a Client Engagement

By Bruce Catanzarite

Management consulting and coaching are often paired in a consulting engagement, along with mentoring. Many consultants say they are coaching the client, when in fact they are mentoring him. Mentoring involves telling and disseminating new information. Coaching involves asking questions, primarily. Mentoring imparts new information. Coaching draws out existing information and motivation the client already possesses—but may be dormant or below the client’s conscious awareness.

Mentoring is consultant focused and aims to move the client to the place where the consultant wants him to be, or possibly where he thinks the client wants. Coaching is client focused and aims to move the client to the place where the client wants to be, confirming this during the coaching conversation. Both mentoring and coaching are appropriate when consulting, but at certain times the consultant should move into a pure coaching mode. The word ‘coach’ originates from the transportation field where a stage coach brings a person from one place to another place more desirable. This sums up the role of coaching in management consulting: helping a client move from where he is to where he wants to be in his business.

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