Consultant vs Advisor vs Coach

Photo at blog from webmaster - 21/09/2010 - 13:13

Since we started to offer personal coaching for IT-executives, I got a lot of questions about our format and the differences with more common consultancy models. All formats serve a purpose but personal coaching as we see it is clearly something different.


Consultant is probably one of the most often misused titles in IT. Originally meant to describe a content matter expert who would advise on a topic in a certain setting. A pure independent, conceptual advice given observations and parameters, like a consult you could have at your specialist: you tell the symptoms and the specialist determines the illness and suggests a treatment. Nowadays it seems almost every (external) resource hired in IT is called a consultant, from the tools specialist implementing the software you bought (more truly an engineer) to the person analyzing and defining business processes (more truly an information analyst).

Then there is the special breed of "armchair consultants". Unlike the above mentioned doctor who gives you advice on the treatment most likely to cure, these consultants pride themselves in writing thick reports in which they show that they know at least 42 theoretical variants that could apply. No sound advice though for your specific situation (more truly researchers).

A true consultant will analyze logically, describe potential solution scenario’s, rank them on relevance given the specific problem at hand and will be able to tell you the risks involved, so that you can take a sound decision.


An advisor is in essence also a consultant but with a more elevated view on the subject and seniority wise at (more) equal level with the person who is being advised. Normally we see elements like maturity, seniority, experience and independence in an advisor. Certainly the trusted advisor can give also advice even when not asked for.

Also the advisor name is misused. The trusted advisor status is the heavenly stage any commercial person wants to achieve (and is told so by all sales methodologies). But they are never independent, there’s always an agenda in the background. I would call them "Vendorvisor".


In sports we see two typical forms of coaches. First the highly visible conductor type in team sports who defines the strategy, decides the line-up and corrects at the side line. Secondly the rather invisible, sometimes completely unknown coach of individual athletes who organizes training scheme’s, prepares for competitions and gives mental support at an individual level. Of course from this specialized forms have grown like mental coaching. In all cases the athletes and teams in the end have to perform although the coach is the first one to be throw out if the results are not coming.

The Results2Match concept of MyPersonalCoach is based on the individual needs of senior executives in the IT (CIO, VP/Director of IT, etc.). The personal coach encompasses the analytical conceptual skills of a senior consultant, the independence and maturity of the advisor. This is all centralized around the specific coachee and his or hers position. The personal coach is there for the coachee and the coachee only. So support and advice can be far more intimate and truly personal. The manager is still the one making the decisions. The personal coach is there, if-and-when required, as a knowledgeable sounding board, mirror, conscience and sometimes father figure.

In the rather lonely world of IT-executives, squeezed between the pressure from board, customers, vendors and their own organization, a personal coach can be a logical insurance premium with a certain payback.

If you want to comment or curious about the MyPersonalCaoch concept, please let me know.

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