What Makes For A Great Consultant?

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: consulting

Clients engage with consultants to:

  • produce outcomes they alone cannot create
  • ensure the client isn’t “breathing their own exhaust”–Alan Weiss
  • bring fresh perspectives, new life and energy
  • bring industry best practices
  • simplify complex problems, not add complexity to complex problems
  • help clients resolve important issues and go away, leaving the client self-sufficient and far better off

Clients eschew “one-size-fits-all” responses or attempts by consultants to oversimplify the problem(s) they face. A response that was appropriate years ago may not be appropriate now. If the solution to resolving an issue was that simple, they wouldn’t need to bring in a consultant.

Great consultants:

  • ask a lot of questions rather than try to impress with standard bromides
  • listen more than they talk
  • don’t offer solutions until they first understand the current challenges very well
  • tell the client they’d like time (an hour, a day, etc.) to consider alternatives to an issue rather than offering a solution on the spot
  • come back with a succinct response that is appropriate and viable

It’s challenging for a consultant to withhold offering solutions early in the relationship even when they are certain they understand the issues incredibly well. Consultants must capitalize on the opportunity to learn about the uniqueness of each client to earn their respect. Then, when a solution is offered, the client can be certain they’ve not received a “knee-jerk” reaction. These ideas will help both the client and consultant thrive.

Thought for the week:

When the Dalai Lama was asked what surprised him most about humanity, he answered:

“Man….Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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