Today we’re talking about implicit bias and where it shows up when you’re working with your business coach or contractor. I know already there tends to be a little bit of tension between the coaching world and the consulting world. And so I wanted to talk a little bit about that.
Coaching vs. Consulting
Before we dig in, namely what I’m pointing to you is that coaching and consulting are not the same thing. Oftentimes folks think that they are the same thing. We look at anyone who teaches us a skill in a particular niche of expertise and we might say they’re a coach. You could hire a marketing coach or a speaking coach or a financial coach/money coach. But anytime someone is telling you how to do something, they’re not coaching you. To get instructions from someone is not coaching, that’s consulting. A consultant’s sole purpose is to show you how to do things right. They lay out strategy plans. So in many capacities, a business coach who is telling you explicitly how to do things is not really coaching, that’s consulting. They are a business consultant or business strategist. For example, a public speaking consultant gives you strategies for how to perform as a communicator, as a speaker.
What a Coach Does:
The modality of coaching is very explicitly surrounding having you answer the questions of, “Who you want to be?”, and “What for?” Like living for some type of grander purpose beyond what you typically see right in front of you. That is what coaching is about. And so, as the client you are opening yourself up to be poured into by someone else. You’re opening yourself up for someone to see what you’re working with currently and to comment on it, reflect it back in some type of way. For a coach it’s also going to start with a place of vulnerability where you have to open yourself up.
You bring to your coach what it is that you’re currently struggling with, and they help you answer questions, and provide practice areas for you to show up in a different way. So looking at how you are being in those different capacities and in those different areas. Largely in coaching, it is meant to be coming from a nonjudgmental, unbiased place. And one of where you are constantly choosing what you want out of your life and what that looks like.
What a Consultant Does:
With a consultant, they’re going to look at whatever area that it is you’ve hired them – for your marketing, your business, your speaking, and then they’re going to critique it. They’ll give you feedback on how to improve, what to do to change it in order to meet a certain goal you may have – that’s in consulting.
So who then is a Contractor?
When I’m using the word Contractor, I’m speaking of anyone who you pay, who is not on a W2. They’re not an employee of your business. So a contractor in this sense is anyone who could potentially get paid on a 1099. I’m an independent contractor. Someone who’s not an employee but provides you some type of service. So this could be a coach, or a consultant – either one would fall into this bucket of contractor.
Bias in your Business Coach, Consultant or Contractor
When you hire a consultant, someone who’s showing you how to do things explicitly, it comes with the presumption that yes, they should be speaking from past experience. You are leveraging what they already know and how they’ve experienced the world, how they’ve experienced public speaking, how they’ve experienced business strategy, how they’ve experienced these things in order to inform how you should take action. Their bias is part of why you’re hiring them.
And so when you think about implicit bias in this way, I really want us to dig into the fact that it’s unconscious. It’s not something that they are calling to mind all of the time, but it’s more their initial experience of something that they’ve held onto and then set that apart as wrong, or right, good or bad. And when helping and consulting with you, those opinions are based on the results that they’ve seen in their own life, work experience, etc. In that way, their bias serves you. And in that way it is very important when you’re interviewing these people to examine and look at what is their experience. “Does that resonate for me? Is this someone that I would model after?”
Where is your Consultant’s Bias?
This leads right into anytime you’re hiring someone to build out your marketing, someone to be your legal counsel. Someone who’s going to be your financial advisor or your bookkeeper. All of these folks you are looking at when you’re hiring a consultant is, “Does their experience resonate with me? Does what they’ve built look like what I want to build? Are they modeling what it is that I want to model in my life, in my business?” That is key. That place of where they’re coming from, their perspective, their lens directly informs how they are going to provide you advice and counsel for your business and your work.
So unpacking that is what you do in that initial consultation call and really digging into, “Who is this person and what is the lens that they’re using that they’re going to bring into my business and does that lens align with my goals and ambitions?”
Where is your Business Coach’s Bias?
If you have been thinking about hiring a coach, where does bias sit when you’re hiring a business coach? Because in coaching, really the challenge of every coach is to own their own bias and then completely set that aside in order to make space for what’s possible for the client. So in this way, a coach also has bias (because we all do), has these ideas that they’ve developed, and that come from their experience and their past knowledge, and the way they’ve experienced the world.
As a coach, we are always looking for the present and a future conversation.
So we acknowledge, yes, I have a past and then we put that on the shelf in order to help create new possibility for clients and hold space for what is present for the client and what is possible regardless of past experience right now. This is hard. This is really hard because coaches are also human beings and of course, I am going to have my own biases, my own expectations of how the world is, and how you as my client is operating. But as coach, part of the work and part of what you’re hiring your coach to do is to put all of that on the shelf and come with a fresh slate so that you can look at things in a new way and probably a way that maybe neither of you have ever explored before.
Coach’s Bias vs. Consultant’s Bias
And this is really the beauty of the coaching relationship and how it differs from consulting. In consulting, it’s very much you client are over here and consultant is over here, an expert who knows so much and they’re just pulling you up to where they are. But as coach, the client is here, and the coach is here and we have no preconceived agendas, no past garbage clouding our space, and instead together we decide, well, how can you move forward in a new way and we’re co-creating that path together. There’s no one dragging anyone. It’s as walking together and exploring what could be possible starting from today versus starting from some past based experience. Hiring a business coach very much differs from how you would approach hiring a consultant because hiring a coach, what you’re looking for here is not what’s their past lens, what’s their experience?
What you’re looking for when you hire someone to coach you is how present are they to your present and how committed are you to co-creating something with them into your future?
And a coach is doing their own work. Their own internal work is going to make it very clear that they’ve cleared all of that space and made room for you to do that.
What bias have YOU noticed in your Business Coach, Consultant or Contractor?
I know I spoke about implicit bias a while ago, especially specifically around racial issues. As we looked at implicit bias and where that lands and some of the difficult conversations we have in our career spaces, but remember, implicit bias is something that we all carry with us and it’s not good or bad, there’s no charge on it. It just is. And then we get to notice it and then decide what we want to do with it. And Consulting, what we usually decide is to use that as a way to frame and to advise.
Another is about current and future experiences. From the coach perspective, we’re noticing that implicit bias and purposefully putting it aside and asking ourselves what else could be possible. Like forget the past that was in the past. What new thing can I create now and in the future?
Please share your ideas. How have you come up against this in hiring contractors for your business? What did you notice in hiring consultants that you’ve worked with, where it worked well, and what have you noticed in hiring coaches? Where do you see your business coach’s bias show up? All right, friends, drop some comments in the notes.