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Coaches vs. Advisors?

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I was just reading Sean Byrnes article entitled "Coaches vs. Cheerleaders" and he describes coaches as people who
"A true coach listens to you more than they talk. They don't always know the right answer, but they can tell when you don't know it either. They don't try to prove they are smarter than you, they try to get you to show how smart you are yourself. In general, they will eschew the spotlight in favor of helping you step into it. Coaches are people who earn your confidence and with whom you can discuss anything and everything without fear of having it spread." While cheerleaders are well - always just cheering.
My thought is though that this is the same role advisors should play to some extent and while I know executive coaches are a new trend I'm wondering why they are really different from an involved advisor?

10 Replies

Sean Byrnes
1
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Sean Byrnes Advisor
Free Agent
Hi Lucas, thanks for commenting on the post. I want to draw a distinction between my use of the label "Coach" and Executive Coaches which are more like consultants that you pay (usually a hefty sum) to work with you. You are correct that an involved advisor is very similar to what I call a "Coach", with the exception that not all involved advisors are great listeners. Often, involved advisors love to jump in to help you with a crisis or well defined problem but are not as helpful when talking about team chemistry and individual motivation. If you find an involved advisory that can do those things as well, I would call them a Coach.

Note that I'm not opposed to paying for Executive Coaches, they are simply out of the price range for most early stage founders.
Satya Krishnaswamy
0
0
Entrepreneur, enterprise software exec, geek
Lucas I wrote recently about this topic: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/startup-ceo-sounding-board-two-satya-krishnaswamy Happy to provide more inputs if needed Satya Sent from my iPhone
Alex Lambeek
1
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Alex Lambeek Entrepreneur
Advisor at Sportkix (Private Equity funded start up)
Hi Lucas. Thanks for your post. I am a qualified coach and also a start up advisor. The roles I play in each are distinctly different, though a coaching inspired approach to advising can certainly work. In a nutshell, in coaching the assumption is that the client already has all the skills, knowledge and ability to do what he wants. The role of the coach is to partner with the client to inspire him unlock all that potential towards a future positive vision, defined not by the coach but by the client. The coach listens deeply and asks a series of deep questions that get the client to discover things for themselves. In this process, the assumption is that coach and client are equals and coach role is not at all about transferring knowledge or skills or advising. It's about inspiring and Unlocking. More about coaching at the ICF website, if you are interested. As a start up advisor, my knowledge and experience does come into play, though I have personally discovered that using coaching questions has led to major discovery while advising. So it Works there too ! Hope this helps. Alex Lambeek. Sent from my iPad
John Seiffer
0
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John Seiffer Advisor
Business Advisor to growing companies
I think Alex Lambeek is on the right track. I was president of the International Coach Federation back in 1998 and since then have pivoted (before it was a "thing") to more consulting with scale up companies. The way I define the difference is this. A consultant (or advisor) brings expertise in from the outside. A coach helps you maximize the expertise and ability you already have. (This is why top performers in fields like tennis and acting often have coaches.)

Two other points to consider:
  • Coaching is a skill set that can be applied in many situations: consulting, managing, teaching, even parenting.
  • Domain experience and knowledge is required of a coach as well as an advisor/consultant but more so with a consultant.
Peter Kestenbaum
0
0
Peter Kestenbaum Entrepreneur
Advisor, Investor, Mentor to Emerging firms
Coaches/Advisors/Mentors are really different albeit many times one person could be a mentor at one company and an advisor at another.. Founders routinely confuse them and use the descriptions inproperly. Advisor - tied to company and role (advisor to board, advisor to senior leadership)- generalist but frequently leveraged for contacts and industry knowledge.. could help with recruiting, go to market plans, financing, etc depending on their knowledge. In startups usually comes from a more established firm in same space.. typcially more senior meaning 40 or 50 years old. Usually paid in equity.. typical is 1/4 to one percent over 4 years with exception of the lead person for an advisory board. Not uncommon to have 3 or 4 advisors at a good startup and for advisors to come and go as company grows and needs change. Mentor- tied to one person not company and spans companies. Example a CEO of a startup leaves but his mentor stays with him to next company.. Longer term.. Usually more of a generalist. Equity or Cash but not uncommon for a CEO to compensate a Mentor at one company with an eye on how much he helped him at his first two failures by rewarding him with a little extra equity or bonus check Coach- tied to a specific skill- ( presentation coach, funding coach )- usually paid in cash and paid by project or contracted for short time period ( usually not more than 6 months ) - Most entrepreneural programs spend time explaining to founders they need a team of senior "advisors" but here the term advisors could be a combo of the three people above. Opinion- If founders followed the above and had a team in place a large percentage of the questions that show up on this blog would not be posted. Many of the questions posted especially on things like sales commission, how do you....., has anyone ever......, are questions for the companies advisor team. Not only is the team qualified to answer but they are much better than a blog because they understand the specifics of the company and the depth of other company team players Opinion- Due to demographics (babyboomers) and due to market cycles (last hot startup period was late 90s so the populations is 10-15 years more experienced now) there are plenty of folks to help... and plenty of folks who are financially comfortable want to stay engaged and not ready to golf 5 days a week and want to help....They are not looking for cash or at worst are willing to say... hey I am going to bill you $N dollars per month... but only payable when your company reaches $X dollars in revenue ( or some other metric) Use em@! Peter Kestenbaum 1099Partners
Alan Clayton
3
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Alan Clayton Advisor
Roaming Mentor @ SOSV
People seem to have forgotten 'coaching' the way people understand it best originated in the sports world. And whatever you call it today - executive coaching - life coaching - nutrition coaching - business coaching - its all the same.
A coach brings 2 things to the client. 1) A set of process tools and 2) the best interests of the client.
Some would argue it works brilliantly with just the latter.
A coach does not and should not bring content. That's called consulting, advising, teaching etc it's NOT coaching.
Coaches impact the client at the level of beliefs and values.
Teachers impact the client at the level of skills (one below coaching)
Mentors impact the client at the level of Identity (one above coaching)

Michael Krupit
0
0
Michael Krupit Advisor
CEO & Co-Founder, IntroNet. Organizer, Philly New Technology Meetup. Founder & Advisor, Trajectify.
As a mentor and advisor now turned coach, let me jump in and echo these answers to the question. I blogged about it a couple of months ago in "The Difference Between Coaches, Mentors, Advisors, and Consultants."
Coaching is an unemotional, outside-in perspective that is gained through a process of discovery questioning - lots of listening and asking question - to help the coachee (in this case, the entrepreneur) see and think more clearly, expand their ability to perform, and achieve their goals. I do not believe it is a book or a set of forms to be filled out, but rather a process facilitated by a person (coach) or group of people (as with peer coaching).
An advisor has an expertise that they are engaged to share. While it is helpful for an advisor to be a good listener and ask questions, they also better have a bunch of answers!
Coaches, advisors, mentors, and consultants are complementary, and a typical entrepreneur and business will likely have some of all of them.
Peter Kestenbaum
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0
Peter Kestenbaum Entrepreneur
Advisor, Investor, Mentor to Emerging firms
Michael's comment... and an entrepreneur will have a mix or portfolio of them is exactly correct.... And to echo a previous comment if more entrepreneurs had them many of the questions on this forum would never see the light of day... A strength of a true entrepreneur is that they believe they can do everything... Its also their weakness... they need to focus on what they are passionate about and understand and stop trying to learn about every aspect of their business.. If they are not from the sales side get an advisor or coach to help you recruit and get that compensation plan done... a much better solution than sending out an email can anyone give me guidance on a compensation plan for my company
Paula Malady
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Paula Malady Entrepreneur
Principal Consultant at CRT Management Consulting
Peter has a great point. Strengths and weaknesses often overlap. It is great to believe you can accomplish anything -- it is the energy and the faith that breaks down perceived barriers -- it is the genius in us all. Early on in the process, it is wise to get help from a coach to sort through these complicated, brilliant ideas and have them reflected back with some experience to find pitfalls. Learning from your mistakes is great, we will always make these and they will teach us something, but wisdom is not making errors that can be avoided. Everyone comes equipped with a toolbox of information and ideas that come from our past experience -- the trick is customizing those tools to really suit the future, not the past.
Alan Peters
0
1
Alan Peters Entrepreneur
VP Product and Technology at BusinessBlocks
An executive coach is about the individual career professional. An advisor is about helping an entrepreneur build a business. The coach qualities described are useful for both activities, but I wouldn't let the wording conflate the two roles.
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