What does it take to be a great Consultant?
Every year prominent business schools release waves of new graduates into the workforce, each of them hungry to put their knowledge to good use…and make a name for themself. Many will choose to pursue consulting, as, to some, the title of Consultant implies prestige. In reality, there’s no power in a title— reputation is something that you earn through excellence. A great Consultant must have the right attitude and display steadfast expertise if they’re going to earn (and maintain) the trust of the businesses they partner with.
Execute every time
Curiosity is key. Being able to see the challenges that your client is facing (and have the foresight to predict the challenges that they’ll need to tackle in the future) certainly requires a high level of skill. But you also need the ability to execute every time— to operationalize the recommendations that you’re making. Understanding the proper balance between innovation and reality takes a levelheaded, ego-free disposition, and expertise in the solutions that you’re providing. For example, if you work with software, your recommendations must always be the right fit. Whatever systems and processes you create for your client must not only serve them where they are— they must enable them to do more.
It’s your duty to keep focused on your objective
Do you know to stay on track? Building lasting relationships with your client means helping them navigate the changing landscape of their journey. Whether it’s an acquisition, going public, or a structural re-org, it’s your duty to keep focused on your objective. As such, it’s vital that you know how to keep a project from derailing. Seeing your partner through the bumps along the way means knowing how to create and execute solutions, but it also requires a high level of emotional intelligence. Being a source of support in trying times requires a level head and a good heart— in equal measure.
Obtain and deliver new skills
You just have to like it. Technical ability means nothing if you don’t enjoy the conversation. When you’re passionate about what you do, it isn’t something that you turn off. A great Consultant can’t help but think about improving their craft. They find ways to repurpose what they’ve learned from their engagements and are always seeking to obtain and deliver new skills as they move forward.
Great Consultants don’t play a singular role.
In the end, great consultants are the ones who recognize that their personal success is measured by the success of their partners. Sure, you have to possess a sales mindset and be a business operation expert, but you also need to be able to see outside of that domain. Knowing how your decisions affect operations up and downstream is only the beginning. Are you being helpful beyond of the scope of your own project? Consulting means forming a partnership, and as any business owner will tell you, that means wearing a lot of hats. A great Consultant wants to show up however they can— because when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.