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Working definitions to clarify the type of work I do (and do not do):

Coaching is helping another person to increase self-awareness, to set and achieve objectives in order to improve behavioral performance in a particular area (i.e. work, academics, athletics). The coach acts more as a peer facilitator who asks tough questions and listens, yet neither gives answers nor typically poses solutions, allowing the ‘coachee’ to discover their own solutions. (I quite often serve people in this capacity, which requires structure yet can last a rather short duration and typically focuses on a specific performance task or goal).

Consulting is helping a person or organization (as in coaching), but typically implies expertise in a specific area. The consultant may take considerable time assessing the organization or set of circumstances in order to diagnose a problem, and then both pose and implement a particular solution. (I have served in this capacity effectively).

Mentoring is helping another person (similar to coaching) by stepping in with guidance or advice based upon the mentor’s own experience. The mentor is usually more experienced than the junior colleague; thus, the mentor is able to impart wisdom and help the individual grow and develop as a person, as well as to prepare for future roles. (I often serve younger people in this capacity, and this requires a longer term relationship to be developed between the two parties).

Teaching/Training is helping another person develop cognitive skills or abilities. This includes training someone for a particular career or position, or even imparting how to negotiate an interview or write a resume. (I typically do not serve in a teaching/training capacity).

Counseling/Therapy is helping another person move forward by resolving issues related to their past which may inhibit current performance and relationships. A coach does not delve into emotional issues like a counselor or therapist. A coach may be able to help raise an issue (such as anger, anxiety or depression), but these are issues to be processed by a licensed practitioner. (This is not a role in which I serve, and thus would be referred out to another trained professional).

Final Note – I hold a very strong, fundamental belief that, in whatever role, it is imperative to help an individual stand on their own and not build a reliance upon the coach/mentor/consultant. Though the individual (person or organization) may “lean on” the coach/mentor/consultant for a brief duration, it is important for the client to learn how to grow and be sustained on their own. Otherwise, a dependency is created, which is fundamentally not in the best interest of either party.