When is it time for a consultant to become a coach? Featured

8:01pm EDT July 31, 2012
When is it time for a consultant to become a coach?

Many people use the terms “consultant” and “coach” interchangeably, but the approach of each can be quite different, says Ricci M. Victorio, CSP®, managing partner and executive coach at Mosaic Family Business Center.

“A consultant may suggest ideas and offer solutions. However, if a subtle emotional shift signifying resistance or confusion occurs, the approach needs to shift into coaching to find out what’s going on,” Victorio says. “Once clarity is re-achieved, the conversation can return to strategies.”

Smart Business spoke with Victorio about how a multi-faceted adviser will know when to wear each hat and how you can take advantage of those skills.

What is the difference between consulting and coaching?

A consultant is focused on solving specific problems, bringing ideas, experience and solutions to help solve an issue. He or she will advise you of your best options and not get too personal. But when dealing with personal issues, such as in family businesses, it’s not so cut and dried. Standard ideas may not always provide the win/win solution. The discussion with the client and his or her family, where everyone is pulled together, will create a resonating plan for the future.

This is where coaching becomes a dynamic skill set for the adviser. A coach will not get caught up in solving problems, which can be outlying symptoms of a much bigger issue, and will focus on the deeper, big picture topics. A safe and collaborative dialogue will help business owners explore their ideas, vision and facilitate the dialogue with key family and managers. It is the coach’s job to guide this exploration, and then as a consultant help them move forward with confidence.

Where does coaching begin?

A coach will first help identify what is important to the client by asking questions that focus on what is going on right now with the business and family, and the impact they have upon one another. Then consulting comes into play with a deeper understanding of what is important to the client. Ideas turn into action steps and are more succinct and meaningful.

Finding an adviser who is trained to alternate between the role of consultant and coach allows the discovery process to focus on both sides of the decision — first identifying the vision and secondly developing a strategy to achieve it.

What are the dangers of using an inexperienced adviser?

Be careful when advisers use standardized solutions and rush to a conclusion without taking the time to dig a little deeper. The solution may be a really good one, but it also may not be creating a win/win for your business and family. And if the business owner is pushed into solutions that do not address what is actually causing the problem, the process will stall. It takes a different kind of approach, as well as a different presence and mood, to get people to open up and talk about what is really bothering them.

The coach needs to have an open, curious mind and keep pulling back the layers to look at what’s underneath. If the coach will take extra time to look beyond the surface, the answer will emerge. When it does, everyone recognizes it and it seems so simple. This takes patience and a willingness to be vulnerable while exploring many options.

How can utilizing someone trained as both a coach and consultant benefit a family business?

The strategic decisions that business leaders make affect their lives and those of their families and employees. It’s not the technical aspects of planning that jam people up; it’s these personal decisions and their impact upon everyone and ultimately the success of the business. An adviser trained in both capacities will facilitate deeper, more meaningful conversations that get to the truth and uncover emotional baggage, undermining fears and withheld concerns. Once the ‘elephant in the room’ has been recognized, an open dialogue can take place between all involved parties. As people begin speaking their truth, getting people unified in the decision-making process becomes much easier.

How can this relationship empower individuals to make choices?

People want to be respected, empowered and know they are capable. The consultant/coach should work with you from the perspective that you are creative and resourceful, which is different from, ‘You don’t know much about this situation and you need me. I can fix this.’ It creates a dynamic partnership between the client and adviser.

How can a multi-faceted adviser help integrate a business owner’s personal and business lives?

You can’t separate business decisions from your personal life, just as you can’t separate your personal self from your work self. If you find yourself feeling frustrated or unable to move yourself, family or company forward in planning for the future, a multi-faceted adviser can help you get to the core of what is holding you back from making progress. Once this is accomplished, the business or family issues that once seemed so overwhelming won’t look so daunting anymore.

Mosaic Financial Partners is a boutique, fee-only wealth advisory firm dedicated to improving its clients’ lives by providing financial solutions and customized advice to help its clients attain their lifetime goals and aspirations. Mosaic is comprised of 10 Certified Financial Planners™ who work with businesses, families and individuals. Mosaic Family Business Center is affiliated with MFP. Together they combine investment management and comprehensive, on-going financial planning and counseling by integrating the various pieces of the client’s lifestyles into a meaningful whole enabling its clients to make good personal financial decisions and achieve their dreams. For more information visit www.Mosaicfp.com or www.MosaicFBC.com, or call (415) 788-1952.

Ricci M. Victorio, CSP®, is managing partner and executive coach at Mosaic Family Business Center. Reach her at (415) 788-1952 or ricci@mosaicfbc.com.

Insights Wealth Management & Family Business Consulting is brought to you by Mosaic Financial Partners