What is the difference between coaching and consulting?

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What is the difference between coaching and consulting?
What is the difference between Agile Coaching and Agile Consulting? Let’s take a look at some of the core differences between them both.

What is the difference between coaching and consulting and where does ADAPTOVATE sit?

At Adaptovate – we are often asked about the difference between Agile Coaching and Consulting.   Quite often our new recruits ask the question – and at Adaptovate we do both.

Exploring Versus Providing Possibilities

In a Forbes article from last year, one of Adaptovate’s newest team members, Alan Trivedi,  from Los Angles said,

“When you coach, you explore possibilities. When you consult, you provide possibilities. Knowing the difference enables you to provide the greatest value to your customer. When you’re are coaching, you help them explore possibilities for themselves that they might not see. When you consult, you take those possibilities and provide them with options based on your knowledge and experience.”

We’d thought we’d share with you our insights between the Coaching and Consulting.  So we asked a few more of our Adaptovate team to share their thoughts.      First up, coaching.


Mina Gurgis is one of Adaptovate’s consultants from Sydney.  He says “Coaching is when one helps people come to the answer themselves.   They are not the subject matter expert in the area, but he/she is an expert in coaching people to work together and ask thought provoking questions. ”


“Coaching is an very human activity” says Steve Walton – our consultant in the New York office. “It has a focus on personal skills, development of an individual’s competencies.  Additionally there are often discussions about feelings and motivations.”

Steve continues, “The focus tends to be about how to help people be their best.”

Tiong Yeow Tan, an Agile Consultant for Adaptovate in Singapore , says “Coaching is more about framing and enabling the people to solve the challenge themselves.”

Brigitte Odgers-Jewell recently joined Adaptovate in Singapore as our Project Lead and consultant.  She tells this story, “A couple of weeks ago I was brooding over this exact topic! Having spent the better part of 10 years in the company of coaches (mostly Agile but also Career and Executive coaches) I now find myself in the company of consultants.

Prior to joining Adaptovate the mention of bringing a consultant in would leave me cold. This was mostly due to a cognitive bias. But I am now an Agile consultant – an oxymoron in itself.”


Brigitte continues, “Here is where I see similarities. Both coach and consultant will deliver results since both are experts in their field. They are both highly skilled and able to share best practice knowledge in areas of organisational transformation, software development and change etc.

They work across all areas of the organisation from c-suite to team. Both are well versed in organisational design and the pros and cons of transformation options.

The way in which coach and consultant arrive at the outcome is where I see the main difference.

Brigitte explains 5 ways coaching is different to consulting.


  1. The coach will ask many probing questions in order to solicit unique and creative solutions to problem solving.
  2. The coach will work with the team/s to construct a plan that is owned mostly by the team and delivered by the team/s with the coach supporting them with reminders of guiding principles and making space for experimentation and learning.
  3. The coach will encourage course correction and facilitate negotiations to change a plan based on data and team input.
  4. The coach uses techniques to call out blind spots that support team collaboration and self-awareness. All of which is done in a transparent manner.
  5. The coach is equipped with a tools to encourage creation of new habits and mindset shift to take on a changing environment.


Our Adaptovate team are enthusiastic about the role of the consultant.

Steve says “Consulting is a broader, more organisational or systems view.


This practice is about solving a problem, building a strategy or some other type of advice to move forward.” he continues.

“Consulting is when a person is a subject matter expert in a topic and provides his/her solutions/recommendations to others.”  Mina explains.

Tiong Yeow Tan thinks,  “Consulting is about providing advice to solve a particular challenge”.

Caitilin Studdert, a Project Lead at Adaptovate in Sydney, shared her view that “Coaching is about supporting and guiding either a team or an individual. I see consulting as very similar.

There’s often a perception that consulting is sitting in a backroom and devising a strategy without any connection to the company or those working within it.” Caitlin says.

“ADAPTOVATE has been created specifically to offer an entirely different approach. We work alongside our clients as consultants in the same way we do as coaches.” explains Caitlin.

Brigitte Odgers-Jewell now explains how consultants differ from coaches, “The consultant will provide answers and solutions to the particular situation that they have been engaged to address.