Are you a Coach or an Advisor?

Coach Or Advisor

By Christine Walter

When I first started training Life Coaching a participant told me that he wanted to be a Life Coach so that people would come to him for advice.  So, I asked him “are you a Coach or an Advisor?” and I left him for a couple of days with the question. 

As a Coach, I often get clients asking me “what would you do?” Not living their life, and often not having the same experience, I strongly believe it isn’t my place to say.  Our role as a Coach is to assist the Coachee in finding their own way forward. 

Here is the difference between coaching and advising.

Coaches enable people to find the way, advisors provide the map

When advice is offered it shuts down the other person’s opportunity to explore their own thoughts and ideas.  Depending on how it is offered it can also deliver the implication that the Coachee is not capable of finding a solution for themselves and this can slow down, at worst, prevent the Coachee from making a change.  Remember, some Coachees don’t believe that they can change, or that change is hard.  Advising can support this belief.

Exploration is key.  By enabling the Coachee to explore options and find their own path forward the Coach is not only permitting the Coachee to find a wealth of internal resources which stimulates self-empowerment, they are also teaching the Coachee that they can resolve their own challenges. Therefore, a good Coach can happily put any prearranged plans aside and work from a place of exploration.  They master the art of asking curious questions and offering opportunities to be a “thinking partner” to the Coachee.  “As if” and “what if” frames of curiosity enable the Coachee to adventure through possibilities without having to decide if they can or cannot.  A Coach suspends disbelief and assists in building belief bridges for the Coachee.

Coaches work in partnership with the Coachee

 One of the important aspects of good coaching is to encourage a Coachee led session.  Let the Coachee decide what the focus is for the appointment.  In business, this can be slightly different if the employee has been brought in with an aspect of their role in mind.  Partnership is still the goal and certainly possible.  The Manager/Coach can raise the topic, offer a brief outline and explore with the employee a way forward.  A Manager who thinks of themselves more as a Coach is valuable in any organisation. 

Any actions from the coaching session should be agreed upon by both parties as a way forward.  This is relevant to any form of coaching.

Advising holds the responsibility

When a Coach takes on the role of advisor they take on the responsibility for the problem and when this is done the Coach is setting themselves up for a fall.

Why? Well, people will only change their way of being when they choose to change. No amount of advice can alter that.  For a person to change, a link to their beliefs, values and identity needs to be created.   It is at these levels that true change can occur.  If the Coachee cannot see the connection or the belief, values and identity that has created the behaviour in the first place is more important, change will be more complicated and slower.  It may even be non-existent.  A Coach finds out what is important to the Coachee about change and utilises that information.

Coaching and generative leaning

Part of our challenge as Coaches, which I do not believe advisors can do, is to challenge the Coachee to extend their potential.  One of our great tasks is to extend the Coachee to the edge of their comfort zone – not so much so that they feel panicked. 

When coaching and when facilitating training, my ultimate goal for the Coachee is for them to experience a generative learning. Put simply, generative learning is a learning that changes the way a person is.  That moment where something occurs that means they cannot go back fully to how they were.  It might be an insight, a realisation, a change of belief – it changes how they think, how they conduct themselves – they change.  Not every session can include a generative learning experience, it is the goal.  

When coaching well a Coach is comfortable in being uncomfortable and asking questions to enable a generative learning experience to occur. Beware of believing that a Coach must stick to the plan; Eisenhower’s quote “planning is everything, plans are nothing” is a good underpinning for any coaching session. 

A Coach comprehends that the Coachee is the master of their own destiny

Coaching truly from this aspect enables the Coach to sit with the Coachee from a place of openness, free of judgement and with the focus being totally on the transformation being sought.  If the Coachee expresses an opinion and/or a course of action, the Coach can ask questions and check ecology, understanding that ultimately the Coachee has the right to make the final decision on the course of action.  Our unconscious mind’s prime objective is to keep us alive.  With survival being the ultimate goal a Coachee will always make a decision with the requirement of survival in mind.  As Coaches our task is to assist them to find peace, freedom and their inner wisdom to transform so survival is enjoyable.

Of course, this article is not to discredit advisors.  There are many roles for advisors in life – accountants, lawyers, marketers, nurses and doctors, arborists to name just a few.  I don’t believe Coaches can be included in the list.

The Story of Zodudu

A Polish folklore


There is a village in Poland and the people have beautiful Zodudu (pronounced Shjodudu).  For those that don’t know Zodudu is the beautiful warmth that people have inside.  We all have Zodudu.  It shines warm from the heart outward and is shared with everyone.  The more it is shared the brighter the village and its villagers are, including the visitors to the village that experienced Zodudu as well.

The village in Poland was a beautiful, happy, collaborative village and the villagers were proud of what they had.  They shared their Zodudu as a matter of who they were as people.

As time went by the leaders of the village decided that the Zodudu was being shared too freely, too widely and too often.  They suggested to the villagers that outsiders were taking advantage of Zodudu and hinted that there were perhaps some in the village that were receiving more than they should.  “We should manage this more” the leaders said.  “We should be selective on how we share our Zodudu and who the recipients will be” they said.

At first the people were not sure, sharing their Zodudu was what they did, but the leaders continued their course.  At first only a few people listened, thinking the leaders had a good point, and these people became more limiting in who and when they shared their Zodudu with others.

Some others felt that if one group were not going to share their Zodudu why should they, and certainly why should the first group receive theirs if they were not willing to share.  And so, they became more guarded with their Zodudu.

Others fought against the limiting of Zodudu, sadly their voice became weaker and they grew tired or resisting this move and so eventually, they too limited the sharing of Zodudu.  For some it might have been a conscious thought, for others, the fatigue of being a lone voice might have changed them.  Who knows.

And so, it didn’t take too long before the Zodudu of the village became less and less, people keeping it more for themselves than for the purpose it was intended, to be shared with others.  And the people slowly became less bright, less happy, and less collaborative, and their village became less beautiful and less happy.

One day a traveller came to the village.  He was down on his luck, weary and hungry.  The villagers looked at him suspiciously as they passed him.  They did not know him and their closely guarded Zodudu did not touch him at all – or did it?

A little boy passed the traveller with his mother.  The boy was curious, he had never seen this person before.  His mother, leading the boy by the hand, walked past the traveller and in to a nearby store.

While the boy’s mother was in the store the little boy came outside again and looked at the traveller.  He carefully approached and, because he was so young, he did not know to keep his Zodudu guarded.  He saw the traveller was hungry and offered him the apple in his pocket.  The traveller was grateful and took the apple.  The little boy went to a nearby tap and brought the traveller some water, who again was most grateful.  With the shared smiles and these small acts of kindness the traveller received some Zodudu.  He felt warmer and happier, as did the little boy.  What a curious experience for the little boy.

The mother, realising her child was missing, came out of the store, grabbed the boy by the hand and dragged him away.  She did not see the smile her child and the traveller shared, the smile of embarrassment from the boy and understanding from the traveller, which naturally contained an interaction of Zodudu.

The next day the boy brought a blanket and food for the traveller.  Some of his friends came too.  The  traveller gratefully received the gifts and entertained the children with his stories.  Naturally, within the laughter and stories Zodudu started to shine abundantly.

The laughter gradually brought others, children and adults alike.  Some of the adults walked away again muttering while others stayed, engaged in the marvellous stories of the traveller.

Each day, small gifts of comfort arrived for the traveller, each day he shared his stories.  People looked forward to the daily gathering.  Not only was it an enjoyable time being entertained by this enlightened traveller, they spent more time with their fellow villagers laughing and talking and connecting.  Some would bring harvest for others or look after their children while errands were run.   And somehow, without the villagers realising, their village started to shine again.  Their Zodudu started to shine again.  Everyone quickly felt brighter, happier, warmer; they were working together, supporting each other again – just like the old days.  And the village itself became more beautiful, happier, much more collaborative again – just like the old days.

And the marvellous thing is, not only the people of that village or indeed the people of Poland have Zodudu.  It is freely available to all who have a heart and wish to let it shine.

Job Opportunity


The following Coaching job opportunity has been brought to our attention at Otago University by one of our members.  For more information read the information below or go to the  Otago University Careers website.

Graduate Wellbeing Coach1800852



 Our Service

Student Health provides health care services for students at the University of Otago and is staffed with 52 full and part-time staff who between them undertake over 50,000 medical, nursing and mental health consultations per year.

The Role

The Graduate Wellbeing Coach role is a part of Student Health’s Mental Health & Wellbeing Team. The primary focus of this role is to provide a coaching service to assist postgraduate students to progress their studies and to develop strategies to achieve their academic and personal goals.

In this role, you will work both in conjunction with a multi-disciplinary team of mental health professionals and the wider primary care team at Student Health Services. You will also work closely with the Graduate Research School, particularly in relation to data analysis/improvement.

Your Skills and Experience

• Be suitably qualified within the mental health field with a strong clinical background in assessment, diagnosis, short-term intervention and liaison work.

• A strong interest and experience in helping young adults.

• Able to collect and analyse data to inform development of practice and future service provision.

• A proven ability to function well under pressure of high clinical demand is essential.

• You must have a valid APC and registration with the appropriate body.

• A sound working knowledge of available referral partners and community resources is required.

• An understanding of the particular challenges faced by postgraduate students would be advantageous.

• Experience in Alcohol and Drug and group work would be advantageous.

Ideally, you will be an experienced and autonomous clinician who communicates clearly and works well in various team environments.

Further Details

This is a part-time (30 hours per week) permanent position. For further information, please contact Richard Mooney via the contact details below.

The University is committed to meeting its obligations under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. Candidates who successfully make the final stages of the recruitment process will be required to undergo a safety check.

For further information on the safety check process please visit:

The salary level for this position is to be confirmed by the Job Evaluation Committee. This vacancy will be updated following this.

How to apply

To submit your application please click the apply button below. Applications quoting reference number 1800852 will close on Friday, 4 May 2018.

Additional Information

Note: As a part-time position, the salary range for this role will be the pro-rata equivalent of the annual full-time salary range listed.

Contact: Richard Mooney

Position details: Job Description

Further Information: Department Website

Create an email with a link to this vacancy: Create email

Location: About Dunedin


5 Simple Principles for Quality Communication

Communication is that abstract thing that is all around us; a verb that has been turned into a noun. We communicate through signs, movement, words, emotions – sometimes we communicate well, sometimes not so well.  Even animals communicate.  Here are 5 simple principles that will enhance your communication.

 1.   Understand that everything is communication. In essence you cannot not communicate.  Even if you are in a meeting and say nothing you are still communicating via body language and facial movements. Approximately 55% of our communication is from physiology, body language.  Another 37% is using tonality leaving just 7% for words.

 Like ourselves, our audience is utilising all of their senses to make sense of the outside world and comparing it to information stored within the unconscious mind.  How we dress, stand, move, what we say or don’t say and how we speak, tonality, will all be messaging the recipient.

To communicate with meaning take time to build rapport.  Allow your personal presentation, body language, tonality, any tools you are utilising and your words support the message you are giving.  Plan, prepare and understand that everything throughout the meeting is expressing you.

2.  The meaning of communication is the response it gets. Responsibility of the communication belongs to the person delivering it. It is easy to suggest that the other person doesn’t understand but then we can easily consider what has been lacking in our communication for them to not  By starting with the intention of “what do I want to communicate” and “what does the other person need to know in order to understand what I am saying” we can prepare the way we communicate our message.  As we deliver our message we can build rapport, calibrate the response from the recipient and be flexible in delivery.  The more the deliverer responds and connects with the recipient the more influential the message can be. It is therefore important that we take responsibility for our communication to ensure the response is relevant to the communication.

 3.  There is no failure only feedback. When we take responsibility for the effectiveness of our communication all responses are good feedback.  It allows us, the communicator, to know how well we are communicating, what is being received well and what is not; where our communication has hit the mark and where it has fallen short.  By calibrating our feedback, we are able to focus our attention on where to elaborate, when to move forward, when to check that our audience has full understanding.  We can ask questions to obtain more information so we can provide more meaning to our communication to get the recipient on board.  Feedback is imperative and an essential part of quality communication.

4.   If what you are doing isn’t working, do something different. Well they say insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result! By adapting our approach, trying something different and, utilising visual, auditory and where possible kinaesthetic information we are likely to receive different results. 

5.   In any arrangement the person with the most flexibility controls the arrangement. When we are flexible and ready to try different things, we are more likely to convince or prompt others to follow our ideas.

Think of something that is rigid and inflexible – a stick perhaps.  Should we try to mould a stick it is more likely to break because there is no flexibility in a stick.  When we as communicators lack flexibility it can sometimes be difficult to create rapport, to get our message to the recipient for understanding. When we are flexible, approach the matters at hand in a different way there can be more opportunity for conducive, effective communication.

Some people ask “can I do it” when the question should be “HOW can I do it.”

 There is a wonderful story about an interview with Thomas Edison after he created the light bulb.  The younger interviewer apparently said “how does it feel Mr Edison to have failed a thousand times before finally creating the light bulb.”

“Fail!  Fail young man!?  I didn’t fail!  I simply found 999 ways of how the light bulb would NOT work.”

Communication operates best when it is working both ways.  The responsibility sits with the communicator and not the one receiving the communication.  If it isn’t working don’t get frustrated, take a few moments to collect your thoughts and reflect on what you want to communicate and how the other person needs to receive it to understand.  Then, have another go.

By Christine Walter, MNLP, Dip CAH, TMLC, mBIT Coach


After several years of promising myself to read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, I am finally doing so.  It has been mentioned several times through a variety of professional development courses I have completed over the years and it suddenly turned up on my coffee table a month ago – my daughter had purchased it.The time seemed right.  This is not a book review; it is notice of something within the book that has caught my attention and my unconscious mind ponders on.

I am not going to go into any great detail either.  I think everyone knows of the Holocaust and the immense suffering of those interned. And even knowing this, some elements of the books still shock me; no – they sadden me.

There are many notable texts within the book that incline me to put the book down and muse.  Frankl was a prisoner in Auschwitz and was moved around other concentration camps; sometimes it was the simple act of changing, or not changing of a camp that enabled his survival.  It was a cruel life where they were treated worse than animals.  Some prisoners appear to have behaved like animals in the end, turning on their own for survival, cannibalism is noted once; some lost the will to live.  Some became “camp police” and received privileges; they became more of a friend of the Nazi than of their own.  There was, as you could imagine, a lot of apathy.

Frankl describes a time when he voluntarily moved to another camp to care for prisoners suffering from typhus.  Many of his comrades advised strongly against it; all prisoners were undernourished, over worked and kept in insanitary conditions and risk of catching typhus himself was high.  Yet Frankl notes that he willingly volunteered.  Certain that death was not far he preferred to meet his fate serving the need of others than to complete the meaningless manual labour that generally filled his day and die for nothing.  Despite his own suffering Victor Frankl chose service and possible sacrifice over his own safety.

Another thought-provoking passage for me was Frankl exploring a curiosity to the psychological and psychopathical characteristics and notes that within all this ‘hell’ there were occasionally random acts of kindness to others and self-sacrifice.  He writes this:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

And it was the use of the words “choose” and “attitude” that caught my attention.  It caught my attention because this is where I believe the only place that personal change, transformation or fulfilment of life can occur.  I like the clear notation that choice is always present and it is our own choice that chooses the way.

Naturally this sits with my own beliefs and values.  I think it would not resonate so well if it did not.  We are inherently prone to debate a cause from our own set of values.

Survival is the ultimate goal in life.  History is full of stories of people adapting to enable survival.  Some change their value set or strategise to achieve their survival and link it to their values.  As an example, the person bullied may become a bully themselves perhaps noting that those with perceived power are better off in life.  In New Zealand recently, a politician has admitted to committing benefit fraud in past years justifying that it wasn’t her fault, the system made her cheat.   And there we see an example of the exercising of a chosen attitude in a given set of circumstances.  The prisoners in the concentration camp might have said (and many probably did) “it isn’t my fault that I behaved like this, the deprivation of basic human requirements made me do it”.  Then there were others who refused to believe this and offered altruistic behaviour; they denied others to take away the last of their human freedoms, their freedom of choice.

So here is where my thoughts linger.  As a Coach, I meet people who seemingly are giving up their human freedoms.  They may request assistance to gain more confidence.  They may ask to be coached on letting something in their history go.  Some will firmly believe that the choices they have made were “not my fault”. They may desire change to how they are; it all comes from their beliefs and values and who they are in that moment.  In each of these examples they are relinquishing some of their human freedoms unwittingly and somewhat willingly. In these examples though, the people are starting to realise that there IS choice, that they have choices and seek out assistance to start to create choices.  And we as coaches can rejoice.

There are still many out there who are freely giving up their choices, their rights, their human freedoms, I believe there always will be. There are many out there blaming government, or circumstance or someone else for their predicament and relinquishing themselves of choice in doing so. Along with this there are others that seek to take away others human freedoms.  Those that prejudice against race, religion, sexual preference, and gender.  And the payoff for this if permitted, as Frankl also notes, is apathy.

Apathy, an outcome of people relinquishing choice of an appropriate attitude to circumstance, of relinquishing their choice to stand up for themselves and relinquishing their choice to stand up for community.

Together, any community can change this.  As coaches do we not have the ability to pave the way?  As coaches, we can share the message of choice, of the abundance that is create with a positive attitude.  United we can role model the value of strength in individual belief of choice, of self-awareness and self-responsibility to be our individual selves and responsible for ourselves.  Combined we can demonstrate that the act of giving allows us to receive far more than in the act of only taking.  I am reminded of the saying “no one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”  As Coaches, we can assist people to strengthen their internal positive beliefs, to have a voice and ensure that they do not give such permission to others.

I am often inspired by people like Rosa Parks, Kate Sheppard and George Williams.  They are just three of many people in history who chose their own way and made a difference in history.  They made a difference in lives and life.  It is these sorts of people who are the giants on whose shoulders we as coaches stand on.  I believe, we are required by the simple of act of being given life, by the choice to be a coach, we are committed to continue the legacy of the giants before us and by doing so, in some humble way, to be sure to leave our own legacy.


Christine Walter

Life Coach, Hypnotherapist, mBIT Coach