Advisor. Coach. Consultant. What’s the Difference, and Why Should I Care?
Business advisors are too often mistakenly termed “consultants” or “coaches”. These three roles, however, are markedly different. While you may or may not need a coach or a consultant, any successful business person needs a business advisor who can provide relevant and timely insight that would otherwise be missed.
You may be asking yourself, what is the difference? Why do I need an advisor?
Coaches are individuals trained in utilizing a wide variety of behavioral techniques and methods to assist their clients in achieving a mutually identified set of goals. The primary goal for the client is to improve his or her leadership abilities, not necessarily to drive a specific business objective. Often, coaches have a psychology or human resource background, making them perfectly capable of helping to lead an individual through the personal journey of becoming a better leader, boss, or mentor. However, a coach may lack the actual experience of the individual’s job function, or role. Therefore, advice is often specific to leadership traits, and not situationally relevant or outcome focused.
Consultants are individuals who have a set of agreed upon objectives. They tend to do hands on, tactical work under a specific scope of work. Consultants produce a specific work product often termed as a “set of deliverables”. Good consultants have expertise and knowledge in the area of scope. They utilize frameworks and methodologies. Rarely, however, does the consultant have experience in their client’s job function or role. Recommendations and deliverables, therore, are focussed on the experience and best practices employed by the consultant, or the consultant’s firm.
Advisors are different. An advisor is a person who has deep experience not only in the topic under discussion but also in having sat in the same job role and personally faced the weight of the situation. Good advisors will be very experienced leaders in their area of expertise, combining both their successes and failures into teachable, actionable insights. Great advisors listen attentively, ask meaningful and relevant questions, and provide thoughtful and realistic advice.
Advisors are rare individuals. Their domain of expertise ranges from starting or leading a company, managing rapid or declining growth, and even launching new products. Advisors are typically experienced in small, mid or large company operations and tend to be rooted in a “role” level of expertise such as finance, technology, sales, product, human resources, etc.
Advisors are not “yes” men or women. They focus on strategic issues and help their clients examine risks, remove blockers, and refrain challenges as opportunities or decision points. Advisors focus their client on getting to an action plan and empowering their client to carefully consider alternate solutions that prevent failure. Clients can quickly get to the heart of the matter with meaningful insights from their advisor.
Great advisors are worth their weight in gold. It’s not their education. It’s not their methodology, framework, or socio-economic background that matters. Rather, it is the advisor’s hard-earned experience, in combination with their willingness to openly share, that matters most. It is this qualifying element that we seek as business leaders. None of us want to fail. No one wants their blindside to be exposed, and no one wants to lead a team into danger. Getting access to a real business advisor, not a consultant or a coach, is one tool in any successful business leader’s toolkit to ensure success and avoid disaster.
If you are serious about leading a company, leading people, or growing your career, you need an advisor. You need an advisor who has deep experience in your arena, or topical area. You need an advisor who has hands-on experience and will be respectfully direct in sharing their insights based on real, professional, personal experience.
What could a trusted advisor do for you and for your business? The landscape is changing and it will never be the same. Perhaps it’s time for you to bring in an advisor as your companion on this journey.
Click HERE for more details on how an advisor can be a valuable resource for you as part of your go-to network .
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