Are You Confused About What Coaching, Mentoring, Consulting Mean?

I am going to do my best to get the terminologies and labels straight. For example, we hear I am a coach, a mentor, or a consultant, interchangeably used as if they mean the same thing. 

Well, they don’t. 

And, they do mean different things. So, I scoured the internet and leaned into the expert’s space, and here is the learning that I am using to define Noorbiz’s offerings.

What are the key differences between coaching, mentoring, and consulting?

Before we talk about the key differences, we need to establish the differing definitions of coaching, mentoring, and consulting.

Consulting

So what is consulting? 

The definition of consulting is “engaged in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a specific field.” In other words, a consultant is somebody who advises a specific group of people. Thus, consulting is providing expert advice to a particular group of people, person, or organization.

According to Websters’ dictionary, the definition of consulting means: providing professional or expert advice. [see image]

A concept of consulting would look like this:

Company ABC would like to fix the inefficiencies that are costing the company time and money. So they hire a consultant who specializes in operational efficiency.  

This consultant uses their professional experience to fix the problem and provide verbal and concrete (tools, systems, methods) on a specific solution.  

These solutions might be a methodology, framework, or tool (which the consultant gets commissioned on). 

In this case, the consultant fixes the problem with their processes and tools. Also, many times the consultant pushes a solution that they represent.

An example of consulting will look like this: 

John has a plumbing company, and he feels his team is wasting his time managing customers. Specifically, he is spending most of his time making sure the onboarding process is sound and efficient. John hires Mary, a consultant, to help unpack and provide a specific solution to solve his particular problem. 

Mentoring 

What is mentoring?

The definition of mentoring is someone who shares, teaches their knowledge, and passes it down to a mentee.

A mentorship typically is a relationship between someone more experienced or more senior than the mentee, thus sharing their experience and expertise to help the mentee reach their goals.

A mentorship emphasizes both the professional and personal development of the individual. 

Mentorship is beneficial when a mentor has been in a similar situation with the mentee and can give informed and expert advice on what course of action they took and how it worked out for them.  

In a nutshell, you learn from their experiences.

An example of Mentoring will look like this:

Soumayah wants to take her beauty and skincare line to market. Although she’d like to grow her business, she’d like to learn how rather than have an agency do that work for her. Because by learning, in the long-term, she’d have control over her company’s growth, including her ability to manage additional costs.

How so?

Hiring an agency to do the marketing work creates a dependency on the agency. An agency makes their money by keeping clients – the longer, the better. However, Soumayah is now dependent on them to get the work done. Without them, there would be no marketing.

What if she hired a Mentor?

Suppose Soumayah hired a mentor and learned how to build her marketing strategy. Then, instead of continuously paying an agency that’d never become integrated into her business, she’d have learned how to do it herself and in the future train her future staff.

By learning about Marketing or go-to-market strategies, she’d have  

  1. Gained new knowledge (when is learning a bad thing ever?)
  2. Have autonomy on how she’d like to run her marketing strategy (who do you think knows more about her customer?). 
  3. She’d have control over this marketing expense and have the option to hire temporary staff or hire someone full-time in that she’d have dedicated people.

Coaching

What is coaching?

Coaching is typically related to the world of sports. However, nowadays, many people have coaches to help them achieve a specific goal.  

According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

The essence of coaching is: To help a person change in the way they wish and to help them go in the direction they want to go. Coaching supports a person at every level in becoming who they want to be.

Coaches use many different models to be impactful; the one we use here at Noorbiz is the Co-Active model.

Co-Active helps you stretch your sightline, get out of your comfort zone, and grow along the way. It’s a way to understand your journey better—to help you design your own life’s quest by rediscovering your courage to be the one you want to be to create what you want to create.

An example of coaching outside the sporting world would be a situation where a person, let’s say Amarah, would like to step into a leader of her organization but doesn’t feel confident about herself. So her goal with her coach could be how to be a confident leader.

Another example of coaching might be finding out how to help Soumaya find out who her target market is for her skincare products. Again, through coaching, the answer to this will come to fruition.

Therefore, the most significant difference between consulting and coaching is:

>> who holds power

In consulting, the consultant holds power in the relationship, while coaching the client holds power. 

The consultant provides advice and often teaches the client-specific tools, skills, or knowledge.

Although I’ve been a consultant, coach, and mentor, my favorite role is being the coach and mentor. My intention always lies in ensuring the coachee/mentee/client holds the power to make the changes they’d like to see for themselves. As a Co-Active coach, I believe that everyone is naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. Also, real change and growth come from within.  

Are you interested in coaching and mentoring? Set up a free coaching session with me.