Understanding the Differences Between Executive Coaches, Management Consultants, and Therapists

If you are in the market for advice regarding your personal or professional life, as you compare your options, you may wonder how a management consultant, an executive coach, and a therapist differ and how to determine which is best qualified for the type of guidance or support you or your team are seeking.

I have served both as a consultant and a coach, and I refer my clients to therapists when the help they need is more psychological or emotional in nature. In this post, I describe my previous work as a management consultant and now as an executive coach, explain how the three roles (management consultant, executive coach, and therapist) differ, and provide guidance on how to choose the right one for you.

Management Consulting

As a former management consultant (Deloitte in NYC) my role was to serve as an independent, outside, objective consultant (typically a part of an independent external team) who could assess a client’s perceived needs and present concrete and highly specific solutions. We would interview the key players at the company that hired us, collect and analyze data, and offer solutions at the end of the project. Most often the end of the management consulting engagement would include a presentation and a binder given to company executives stating our findings and recommendations.

Most management consulting projects address integrative business-focused issues and involved one or more departments, never just a sole individual. We worked on Continue reading…

How Important is Chemistry When Choosing an Executive Coach?

It’s probably no surprise to anyone reading this post that the coach-client relationship plays a key role in the outcome of any executive coaching engagement. After all, the best definition of executive coaching I’ve come across – from Jonathan Passmore and Annette Fillery-Travis — defines coaching as “a Socratic based dialogue between a facilitator (coach) and a participant (client) where the majority of interventions used by the facilitator are open questions which are aimed at stimulating the self-awareness and personal responsibility of the participant.”

For such a dialog to be effective, there must be good chemistry between coach and client.

Executive Coaching Chemistry Graphic

And while that may seem obvious, we have several research studies that highlight the important role chemistry plays in the outcome of any coaching engagement. For example, in “A Critical Review of Executive Coaching Research: A Decade of Progress and What’s to Come,” Passmore and Fillery-Travis conclude:

  • “It is now recognized that the most consistently identified factor seen as contributing to the success of a coaching engagement is the quality of the relationship between the coach and client.”

Citing another study by Louis Baron and Lucie Morin, The Coach-Coachee Relationship in Executive Coaching: A Field Study, Passmore and Fillery point out:

  • “Results indicate that the coach‐coachee relationship plays a mediating role between the coaching received and development of the coachees’ self‐efficacy.”

Finally in another study, “A large-scale study of executive and workplace coaching: The relative contributions of relationship, personality match, and self-efficacy,” Erik de Haan, et al. conclude:

  • “The coachee–coach working alliance mediated the impact of self-efficacy on coaching effectiveness, suggesting that the strength of this working alliance — particularly as seen through the eyes of the coachee — is a key ingredient in coaching effectiveness.”

Of course, good chemistry is not enough. A coach also must help a client identify his or her Continue reading…

Why Learning Plus Action Equals Change

Think back to any major change in your life, and you can probably attribute that change to the following formula:

Learning + Action = Change

For example, you may have learned a subject or skill in college, applied your knowledge (action), and landed a job in your field of expertise (change). If you engage in a fitness program, you learn different exercises, perform those exercises on a consistent basis, and witness the positive changes in your body and health and fitness level. If you’ve ever had relationship counseling, you probably learned specific techniques for communicating and for solving problems; using those techniques (action), you should have experienced positive changes in your relationships.

Much of what we learn and what ultimately results in change has to do with our interaction with the outside world. We explore the external environment to learn more about the world around us and how to more effectively navigate and interact with that external reality. Unfortunately, few of us invest nearly as much time and effort exploring ourselves internally to learn more about who we really are. As a result, most of us have multiple blind spots — strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, talents, biases, and so on, that we know very little to nothing about.

Action Plus Learning Equals Change

These blind spots make us susceptible to thinking and behaving in ways that may not be the most effective in our personal or professional lives. In fact, they often prevent us from leading prosperous, fulfilling, and successful lives. We feel frustrated and have no idea that the cause of that frustration is something that can be addressed within us.

One of the key benefits to working with an executive coach is that your coach can lead you through the process of learning and taking action to effect positive changes in your life. By engaging in this process with coach knowledgeable and experienced in the process of change, you can start to eliminate your blind spots andContinue reading…

Calculating the ROI of Executive Coaching

Executive coaching can be expensive. According to an article entitled “What Can Coaches Do for You?” published in 2009 in the Harvard Business Review, you can expect to pay between $200 and $500 per hour for executive coaching, with elite coaches charging up to $3,500 per hour. And that was ten years ago!

ROI of Executive Coaching

However, we all recognize the folly of those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. If that $3,500 price tag were to earn you $7,000, you would be more than satisfied. Well, what if I were to tell you that several studies show the return on investment (ROI) of executive coaching far exceeds 100%?

Here are the numbers:

  • According to Joy McGovern, et al. in the study Maximizing the Impact of Executive Coaching: Behavioral Change, Organizational Outcomes, and Return on Investment, published in The Manchester Review,2001, and available for download here, a conservative estimate of the ROI (for the 43 participants who estimated it) averaged nearly 5.7 times the initial investment in coaching.
  • In another study, Booz Allen Hamilton’s executive development director, Vernita Parker-Wilkins, coaching produced intangible and monetary benefits for seven out of eight business impact areas, and ROI 689 percent.
  • Confirming those results is an Intel study revealing its internal coaching program resulted in an ROI of more than 600 percent.
  • In a study conducted by MetrixGlobal LLC, companies reported an average return of nearly $8 for every $1 invested in executive coaching.
  • And in a global survey of coaching clients by PwC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) and the Association Resource Center, it was reported that the mean ROI for companies investing in coaching was seven times the initial investment, with over a quarter reporting an ROI of 10 to 49 times.

Will My Investment in Executive Coaching Be Worth It?

You can easily calculate your ROI after you receive coaching, pay the bill, and evaluate the results. You simply subtract the cost from the total value gained, divide by the cost, and multiply the result by 100%. For example, if you paid a coach $5,000 for services that resulted in a $30,000 increase in your gross income, your ROI is ($30,000 – $5,000)/$5,000 = 5 x 100% = 500%.

However, when you are deciding whether to hire a coach, you don’t yet have the numbers to crunch to determine whether the coach will be“worth it.” After all, several factors, in addition to cost, contribute to ROI, including the following:  Continue reading…

Hiring an Executive Coach: 10 Do’s and Don’ts

Great coaches help to make great athletes. Basketball coach and mentor John Wooden played a key role in launching the careers of numerous basketball greats, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, and Gail Goodrich. Tennis standouts Venus and Serena Williams owe their success, in part, to their father/coach Richard Dove Williams. While boxing champs Floyd Patterson, José Torres, and Mike Tyson all have Constantine “Cus” D’Amato to thank for their entry into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

What all these coach-athlete relationships have in common is the right chemistry. When you are in the market for an executive coach, look for someone who is not only qualified but is also the right match for you.

Do's and Don'ts of hiring an executive coach

In this post, I provide 10 tips on finding the right executive coach for you.

1. Make a list of what matters.

Develop a list of executive coach attributes that are important to you. For example, you may appreciate an executive coach who:

  • Speaks truth
  • Provides empathic attunement (responds to the client’s perception of reality in the current moment as opposed to his or her own “objective” view of the situation)
  • Fosters a deep level of connection
  • Expects the potential of the client to come forward
  • Holds the client accountable
  • Keeps the client moving forward

Related… here is what a well-qualified executive coach should do for her/his clients:Continue reading…