The multiple hats worn by consultants
It is clear that coaching has taken the world by storm. But what are the expectations? Purists believe that coaches need to ask good questions and the coachee will find the answers themselves.
Then there is the question about life coaches versus executive or business coaches. In my experience, with the exception of pure performance coaching, I have yet to conduct an executive coaching intervention without considering the individual’s entire life. I like to use the wheel of life as a simple tool to get the individual thinking and to give them perspective regarding how balanced their life actually is.
What I have found in my multiple interventions with executives and senior management is that they are looking for an experienced, multi-dimensional individual to engage with.
So on to my core topic. I have observed many coaching students grapple with the purist view and I have also drawn from my own experience to come to the conclusion that professional consultants, who also coach clients, have to wear “multiple hats”. Allow me to elaborate; I will describe the various roles that a consultant will wear during multiple client engagements. It is also more likely that a consultant will coach as well, rather than a coach consulting to the client, because the latter may not have the required business competencies.
I need to emphasise that it is critical that the professional is at all times aware of the specific role they are performing. So on to the roles, and I will provide simple definitions for the sake of this article and I am fully aware that some purists will challenge them:
Consulting – is about providing professional advice to businesses and the leaders and managers therein.
Coaching – Executive Coaching is the process of working with managers and executives to facilitate self-awareness concerning them in their work and/or personal life and to lead them to the development of solutions to their challenges.
Mentoring – Providing expert advice and guidance, taking members of a team under one’s wing and providing a role model for the team. In many cases, it is also about providing direction for one’s career.
Leader – Articulating a clear vision and creating the environment in which people motivate themselves to reach that vision jointly.
Facilitator – An individual who interacts with a team or trainees to achieve two-way communication and team outcomes.
Technical Expert – An individual who has superior technical competencies in a particular field. This expertise may be split into functional and or sectorial expertise.
Trainer – an individual who conducts training needs analyses, designs curricula and training content and delivers training to delegates in a formal or hands-on environment.
Contractor – a contractor is a person hired to perform a task or set of tasks for a defined period of time.
Interim Executive – as the name implies, an interim executive is someone who is engaged to perform an executive role in an organisation because a permanent incumbent cannot be found, the organisation is in a state of flux or the process of hiring is in process.
Project Manager – An individual responsible for managing a defined project (or projects) on behalf of an organisation.
Counsellor – A person trained to give advice on personal or psychological problems; neither consultants nor coaches should be practising in this area, unless they have the appropriate qualifications and registrations.
Sounding Board or trusted advisor – a variation of generic management consulting that operates as a regular advisor at the request of (typically) a senior executive where there is a strong trust relationship.
Devils’ advocate – A professional who is engaged simply to find potential flaws in a process, strategy or plan.
Advocate – An individual brought in to support a point of view or a proposed decision.
Problem Solver – A person brought in to solve specific problems that the executive or organisation cannot solve on their own.
Mediator – A mediator is engaged to resolve disputes in a constructive manner, avoiding costly litigation.
Change Agent – A specific subset of consulting skills utilised to bring about rapid and or lasting change. All Management Consultants are required to be agents of change.
The Institute of Management Consultants and Master Coaches (IMCSA) accredits experienced business professionals in the consulting and coaching professions. Less experienced individuals are offered a growth path to the prestigious certifications. We are firmly of the belief that experience counts when dealing with senior management.
Angelo Kehayas 6 November 2014