advising vs coaching vs guiding

I just got back from the First-Year Experience Conference yesterday.  As always found a few nuggets that can be used in our Life Design work.
I presented a session titled, “Advising, Coaching, and Student Success with Life Design in Mind.” After the session, I had a few interesting conversation with a few of the participants.  When I got back, I shared some of those conversations with my colleague, Megan Cayton.  We had a really interesting discussion about advising, coaching, and guiding, especially after I read the book, “Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning.” by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani.  It made me think about the difference between advising, coaching, and guiding (our term) – in terms of the power dynamic.
In advising and coaching, there is typically a power dynamic at play, either overtly (advising) or covertly (coaching); in other words, the advisor (in advising) or the coach (in coaching) is “in charge” of the conversation with students/clients.  In guiding, both the guide and the student/client have equal power in the conversation.  In that sense, once the advisor and the coach complete their “session” with their student/client, the “relationship” is complete.  In a guiding, it’s possible to continue the relationship long after the “sessions” are over.
I then came up with the following – and feel free to disagree and share comments:
  • Advisors: Depending on the situation, will typically serve as either the “Sage on the Stage” or the “Guide on the Side,” providing/sharing information and giving advise to help students be successful in and graduate from college.
  • Coaches: Will typically serve as the “Guide on the Side,” asking powerful questions to move people towards increasing performance or making positive change.
  • Guides: Will typically serve as the “Guide on the Ride,” where both the guide and the student/client are on an epic adventure, learning from one another.  Guides take an active role in developing their students’/clients’ stories AND in developing their own stories at the same time.
And depending on the situation, all educators have to serve a myriad of all three, depending on the situation.  For me, I would MUCH RATHER serve as a “Guide on the Ride,” where I’m not only helping students write their own stories, but I’m also writing my own stories about how I can profoundly serve others.
Any thoughts?

4 thoughts on “advising vs coaching vs guiding

  1. Love your commentaries! Like you, I would prefer to be the “Guide on the Ride” also. I tell my advisees all the time, that when I am giving advice or asking reflective questions to help them process various experiences— I am also talking to myself. It’s a blessing that I get a chance to continue my growth and development alongside them.

    • Hi Tanzania! Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful reply! I COMPLETELY agree with your statement “I am also talking to myself!” Yep, that’s me too! And like you, it’s always a blessing to continue growing and developing with them! You are a smart cookie!

  2. Love your thoughts on this. I’m continually working on myself too, when working with my clients. Indeed like Tanzania Nevels says, talking to myself. It’s totally different than being on the side of someone’s journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    • Hello Juri. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughtful words. If we’re good coaches, we never stop working on ourselves! And I love the quote that you share – definitely on point! Wishing you all the best on your journey!

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