There’s a word that I and others have been using to describe me over the last few months, that I think I am going to stop using. It’s not an entirely inaccurate description of me, but it’s a C word with problems. The word is, of course, “Coach”.

When I exited my own agency in 2021 I had never planned to work supporting other agency leaders. That work came about as a result of helping a couple of other agency owners who then asked if I’d consider advising more regularly for a fee. Once I realised I loved the new role and wanted to do more of it I looked for a label and decided to call myself an “Agency Coach” as this was the term I was seeing most commonly used.

I’ve now decided to step back from that term. Whilst coaching is definitely a skill I used in the delivery of my work, I don’t think it defines it. Instead I am labelling myself as an “Agency advisor” and my core offering as “Mentoring”. I have three reasons for making this change:

Tension between coaching and mentoring : True coaching never offers solutions, but instead asks questions to help you find your own. This is appropriate for some areas of work I do with clients, such as setting and clarifying goals. However, many choose to work with me precisely because I have experience and can offer options and guidance from my own experience. If a client asks for an answer to a question I know, I’m going to give them that answer and not just reply “Why do you ask that?”.

Coaching as a technique not a product : I’m a big believer in coaching as a process, but to me it is one tool that I can use in my work. I don’t want to cause confusion that I am offering pure coaching as a service.

Association with the agency coaching industry : I’m not more aware of some parts of the agency coaching industry that I did not pay much attention to when I chose to identify as an agency coach. Whilst I know some great people who call themselves “agency coach”, there are growing numbers of no-nothing snake oil peddlers doing the same whilst flogging their programs and courses. Not my world.

So that’s that: Mat Bennett, Agency Advisor. If you want to call me a c-word you’ll have to find another.