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Having a (personal) (executive) Coach nowadays is more popular than ever. Where executive Coaches in the past were mainly employed in situations where “issues needed to be solved”, today there is the general benefit of having a personal executive Coach. An objective sounding board in a world where there are more and more choices and pressure is increasing. An evolution I fully endorse, being convinced there’s no “problem needed to be fixed” to maximise ones personal performance and efficiency in business and above all in leadership.

On the other hand, consistent with this evolution, there is a proliferation of new Coaching practices. Where only a few years ago, it seemed like everybody became a “Consultant” after a successful business career and maybe even more after a Burn-out or unhappy resignation, today you see the title “Coach” increasingly popping up. Whether you call yourself a “Consultant” or a “Coach” in many cases it does not add much difference to the way of working.

For me, here is something to disagree on. There is a huge difference between Consulting and Coaching, and even more, you can’t do both. A Consultant (and believe me, I have been one for many years) helps you to reach the desired outcome as fast as possible, by offering you the appropriate solutions, many best practices and maybe even a detailed rollout plan on how to get there.

But never hire an executive Coach to solve a problem for you, nor to advise you or “help” you handling a specific situation. In executive Coaching, the (problem) situation itself is only contextual. The true challenge lies subcutaneous and asks for a more profound approach. The process of changing is more important than the outcome.

In contrast to your Consultant, your executive Coach does not need to have knowledge of the technical specifications of your business. He (or she) is not going to give you the clear and straightforward input on how to solve the issue. An executive Coach works from the mind-set that the manager has the power to solve the problem himself. Solving this means he (or she) will be able to successfully handle similar challenges in the future.

So there is a different mind-set. If you are looking for someone to bring you the answers, do not hire an executive Coach. But if you want to work on achieving your own goals, no matter how big they are or how difficult to reach, make sure you work with a Coach who is a specialist in facilitating you as a manager to accelerate your own development.

The only goal of the Coaching is pushing you to maximise your own efficiency yourself. Discuss mutual expectations upfront and agree on the Coaching process, the desired outcome and the success measures. Finally I’d like to refer to the “Butterfly story”. An executive Coach does not cut your cocoon, but helps you to reach maximum results on a long-term basis, by defining blind spots, personal barriers and strengths, which allow you to work towards embedding your personal results into the sponsoring organization.

Questions or remarks? Feel free to comment!

Sofie Varrewaere is the founder of BigFish4.me. After studying a Master in Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences, she ogled into the magical world of Recruitment, Selection and HR Services. Working for the world leader in HR, she has always been in an advisory role in relation to the larger goals of several multinational organizations. In 2013 she started her own company in International executive Coaching. Doing what she is good at, challenging others as well as herself.