The Case Against "Pure" Coaching: Why I Give Advice When I Work with Clients


What if you don't want to do "pure" coaching?

What if you want to do a hybrid of coaching, consulting, teaching, and mentoring and use all your skills to help a client get results? Is that allowed?

Well, if you ask a lot of old-school coaches they'll tell you that you need to choose between coaching and consulting.

I think that's ridiculous. In fact, there are some really solid reasons why a hybrid model makes way more sense.

But before we dive into those, let's define what coaching actually is...

What qualifies as coaching?

Some purists will say that teaching and advice-giving have no place in a coaching relationship. It's all about asking questions and helping your clients "find their own answers."

And there's certainly a place for that type of approach. You can't always assume that what works for one person is going to work for someone else.

The problem with this definition of coaching is that it causes a lot of talented people to doubt themselves and ask, "Am I really a coach?"

It also causes a lot of people who have direct experience in what their client is going through to hold back instead of offering a valuable shortcut.

This is where the purist philosophy starts to do real damage.

The truth is, you don't have to be a "pure" coach. As long as you're using your wisdom, life experience, methodology, or coaching skills to help someone achieve their potential in a given domain...then you're a coach.

The #1 Reason To Give Advice when coaching

In all this talk about coaching versus consulting versus whatever else we're doing, it's easy to forget about what really matters to clients: RESULTS.

The truth is, clients don't invest in coaching. They invest in results.

So from a marketing perspective, it's important to realize that clients are focused on getting to a specific destination. They're not so concerned with how you help them get there.

In fact, most clients want you to give them advice. I personally only hire people who I feel have more direct experience than me in the specific area I'm looking to improve. Why? Because I don't want to make the same mistakes that they made!

For example: if I want to lose 50 pounds but I don't know anything about nutrition ...and you're a health coach...then I want you to tell me what types of foods to eat.

Why You Don't HAve To CHoose Between Coaching And Consulting

Put yourself in your client's shoes for a moment. There are certainly times when you want to find your own answers. But if there's already a right way to do things, don't you want to be told what it is?

That's why you're most powerful as a coach when you're able to combine coaching skills with a bit of teaching/consulting based on your own experience.

Where you fall on the spectrum between pure coaching and pure consulting depends on the specific situation.

If you have direct experience with what your client wants to achieve, you should probably do more consulting. If not, focus on coaching. The more tools you can bring to the table, the better.

When I help coaches fill their client roster, I tend to do a lot of teaching and consulting because I know what they need to do step-by-step to be successful. When I work with people who run other types of companies, I do more coaching.

How To Explain What You Do If It's Complicated

The obvious question now is how to communicate what you're selling if you want to use lots of different modalities.

The answer to this question depends on what outcome you want to become known for helping people achieve.

Ask yourself: "If I could give one specific result to everyone I worked with, what would it be?"

Focus on articulating that result and you'll be much more compelling than if you talk about the difference between coaching and consulting. Nobody cares about that.

Greg Faxon

Greg Faxon, 2829 Connecticut Avenue NW (Apt 513), Washington, DC 20008, United States