When should I hire a leadership coach?

Know When to Hire a Professional Coach, Consultant, Mentor, or Therapist

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“What’s the difference between a coach, a consultant, and a therapist? I have so many questions.”  


Friend, you’re in the right place because guess what? I’ve worked with life coaches, business consultants, professional advisers, and therapists, and—as a professional creative life coach and personal brand consultant—I know it’s imperative to distinguish between these services before you invest.


Before I became a certified mindset coach I was a brand designer so I like to think of the distinction between therapy, consulting, and coaching in visual terms.

Therapy is like the foundation of your home. We all have a past, and sometimes past emotional issues are still an issue in how we function today.

Consultants are like the windows and walls of your home. If you want to replace your windows, you should call an expert to recommend the best windows for your home.

Coaching is a home renovation blueprint; it creates a future vision and an action plan to get there. A mentor is like an all-knowing friend who has recently—and successfully—bought a home and is full of advice and connections.

Knowing what answers or advice you need can help you determine which type of career professional can help.



“Should I hire a professional coach?”


As a professional mindset coach, I recognize that my clients are the experts of their lives. I partner with them in a thought-proving and creative process to inspire them to maximize their personal and professional potential. I’m trained to listen and reflect at a deep level, always asking more of them than they ask of themselves.

My training is in ontology, which is the study of who you are being, versus what you are doing. A facilitative coach will tell you what to do; an ontological coach will support, challenge, and advocate for you to reach your highest future vision.

A coach is not a cheerleader. They partner with you to win the game of your life, not to cheer you on from the sidelines. Clients pay coaches to guide them to create authentic leadership, to fully reinvent any area they choose! To inspire and motivate teams, reveal true desires, and build a life by design. A coach works with a client to create future experiences in their career, business, or any area of life.

If you are looking for a transformative and reinventing approach to your life and career through deep creative mindset shifts and decision-making hiring a coach is a great option.


“Should I hire a consultant?”


I come from a brand strategy background and often consult my clients on personal and business branding. I clarify when I’m wearing my consultant hat because consultants and advisers are paid for industry experience, expert guidance, and execution. In contrast, coaches do not need to be experts in an industry. A consultant is a professional who provides expert advice. They have proven methods and strategies to help you reach your personal and professional goals.

An adviser is similar. I work with business adviser Patrick Dichter from Cultivate Advisors, who brings his expertise and industry know-how to each conversation. Dichter shared,

“A coach is someone who helps you by asking the right questions and working on personal challenges. A consultant gives you answers or completes a defined project, and an adviser sits somewhere in between—wearing the coaching hat, swinging to a consultant at times, and solving business challenges together.”


“Should I find a therapist?”


Coaching and consulting are not therapeutic in nature. If sessions with my clients turn toward mental health issues, such as a traumatic event from the past, I recommend they seek a therapist or mental health professional.

“Behavioral health counseling or therapy is focused on understanding the impact of mental health on an individual’s life and helping them heal. Counselors work with clients to increase self-awareness and insight, often providing reflection and making connections in one’s self-history and current functioning. They then help clients develop coping skills and execute plans to reach their goals of overall wellness.” – Suzanne Muirhead, Trauma Specialist. Certified EMDR therapist and EMDRIA Consultant

Suzanne explains there is no limit to what therapy can address, including issues that are long-term and deep-seated to relatively new, but problematic to daily life or relationships.

“People generally seek therapy because they are feeling blocked, experiencing maladaptive emotional and behavioral health symptoms and are otherwise not functioning optimally in their lives.” -Tiffany Louise, social worker and professional coach


“Should I find a mentor?”


A mentor will have their past experience and potential contacts to share with you. They can help you avoid mistakes and pitfalls they may have experienced in their career or business journey.

Because a relationship with a mentor is typically free, I recommend being extremely professional in how you choose to create and maintain the relationship. Great mentors are seasoned leaders who are short on time, so you need to determine your goals, ask the right questions, and take advice with an open mind.

In Conclusion: 

If you are considering hiring professional support to help you with what’s next in your career or business, look for someone who has “been there, done that” and is open to sharing advice or professional coaching with you. At the end of the day, this is your livelihood and your life. Find someone who is honest and willing to challenge you to create the future you desire.

Go beyond what you think is possible and beyond your industry’s blueprint. And finally, don’t hire one professional and expect the services of another. Coaches, therapists, and consultants specialize their services for your benefit. Interview two to three qualified professionals to find someone who is an energetic match for you.

If you are feeling unsure of what to do and are lacking confidence, know that confidence is not something that any of these professional services can give you. Confidence comes from taking the leap toward your goals, one step at a time. Each one of these professional services can support you, but your success is truly in your hands. Create it with purpose and intention and ask for help along the way.

Life and Creative Leadership Coach in Chicago

Hi there!

I'm Lisa Guillot, a Chicago-based creative soul turned transformational leadership coach, with business and branding chops. I blend mindset magic with strategic branding.
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