As a lean business consultant serving Canadian and US clients, I’ve noticed that distinguishing between an executive coach and a business consultant can be confusing, with some people using the phrases interchangeably. My primary offering at Lean Expansion is as a business consultant working in Kaizen. However, I also offer executive coaching—and my roles often overlap. After all, the main objective of both is to improve a business, whether that means overcoming challenges or creating new revenue growth.
The key difference between an executive coach and a business consultant is approach. As a business consultant, I work for you, but as an executive coach, I work on you—my objective is to improve you as the leader of a business.
Many of my clients are well-respected and brilliant company leaders with extraordinary products that showcase a history of innovation and success. However, like most leaders, they are usually more familiar with what their business does rather than what makes it run. This is a challenge for many leaders as companies scale. Consider the following scenario:
The Super Coily Spring Company has been making springs for 30 years and is the recognized leader in their field. However, the arrival of Springazon has made it easier for customers to acquire springs faster, at cheaper rates country-wide, even if the quality isn’t the same.
Suddenly, the Coily CEO has to shift focus from producing the best springs to ramping up production and accessibility. They may need to look at operations—is there any way to cut costs to make pricing more competitive? Is it time to ramp up operations where products are sent out from strategically located warehouses for more timely arrival? Should the company start producing cogs to go with the springs? Moving from execution to operations to strategy is challenging. When clients reach out for executive coaching or business consulting, it usually boils down to one of three scenarios:
In my role as an executive coach, my objective is to help leaders build on their inherent strengths and intelligence to negotiate business predicaments and avoid them in the future. It’s a leader-centric approach and likely the best fit if you need help to polish your vision and skills in an area you’ll be focussing on in the long run. My approach includes:
When I come in as a business consultant, my work is much more hands-on. It’s a sleeves-rolled-up approach as a subject matter specialist to solve problems impairing company operations and growth. Which component is causing a hold-up in the production plant and why? How is it possible to reduce wait times? How do we improve satisfaction and customer experience when most client purchases take place online, without any human interaction?
My role as a business consultant is to fill knowledge gaps, apply specialized expertise, and streamline operations. However, in my experience, most organizations stand to gain the most from some combination of the two. Businesses need someone who can address company-wide challenges while providing support and guidance to develop productive business leaders who know where they want to take an organization and how to get there. It’s a formula that allows organizations to address existing programs while charting a strong, stable course for the future.
When combined, executive coaching and business consulting make for a powerful strategic approach to streamline operations and unlock new revenue growth. If it’s time to streamline operations while simultaneously planning for the future, I’m here to listen.