Being a Great Consultant – mastering the process not the content

I was recently asked what it took to get from being a good consultant to being a great one.  A simple question, but as I described in an earlier post a tough one to answer.  It helped me greatly to clarify first what it took to be Beyond Good as a consultant – qualities summarised in the previous blog below. Finally I came to describe the qualities of what I believe makes the Great Consultant. They possess the qualities of the Beyond Good consultant but have grown to now:

  • Quickly and imperceptibly become the confidante of their clients
  • Become their clients’ long term trusted advisor
  • Re-frame their clients’ thinking and world view through the questions they ask and the insights they generate
  • Be a ‘servant leader’ in their relationship with clients, their ego subsumed to the needs of their client
  • Have a wide repertoire of ‘situational’ consulting styles which they flex and align to the needs of  their client and business context
  • Recognise that there are times when they are at their most powerful / influential when they do and say the least – being the still small voice in the room
  • Selflessly and generously offers insights, shares knowledge, connect people in every conversation
  • Maintain relationships over extended periods of time demonstrating a real interest in and concern for their clients whether or not there is consulting work active or in the offing
  • Continuously, skilfully and adventurously, invest time and energy in their own development as a person as well as a professional
  • Doubt they really know anything other than they have become masters of the process not the content

If you can help me improve this list do let me know, it wasn’t easy getting to here!

The Beyond Good Consultant – the stepping stone to being a Great Consultant

I was recently asked what it took to get from being a good consultant to being a great one.  A simple question, but as I described in an earlier post a tough one to answer. I really wasn’t that sure what a Great consultant was like but I was pretty clear what it was like to go beyond good.  The Beyond Good consultant is someone who has the qualities of the Good Consultant outlined in my previous blog below but who now:

  • Quickly establishes personal credibility with their clients
  • Has integrity that shines through enabling clients to open up their private thinking to the consultant confident in the knowledge that confidentiality is key
  • Recognises the need to be themselves, not ‘acting the part’ of being a consultant, trusting that their insights and feelings are valid and provide value to their client
  • Is flexible and adaptable in their ways of working with clients, recognising intuitively that different contexts require different styles of engagement
  • Develops new frameworks and models in addition to being adept and at ease with a broad range of established one
  • Challenges the thinking, assumptions and world views of their clients – subtly not bluntly, opening their eyes to new ways of seeing the world, the issues they have to deal with and preparing the ground for breakthrough and break out strategies
  • Ensures no long term dependency on them as consultants – leaves a legacy of embedded capability so client doesn’t need their help to do that sort of project again
  • and in the midst of all of this now doubts they truly know their stuff as they once though they did

If you can help me improve this list do let me know.

My description of the Great Consultant follows in the next blog.

What it takes to be a Good Consultant

I was recently asked what it took to get from being a good consultant to being a great one.  A simple question, but as I described in an earlier post a tough one to answer. I think I have a pretty good handle on what makes a good consultant and described the good consultant’s qualities as someone who:

  • Knows their stuff
  • Quickly builds an effective working relationship with their clients
  • Has, and adheres to a clear and consistent method of working with their clients
  • Has a wide repertoire of consulting tools and frameworks they use appropriately and with confidence
  • Invests time to listen, gather data, understand the broader context of the presenting problem
  • Engages in a structured process of diagnosis and root cause analysis to get to the heart of the issue to be resolved and develops solutions that address these root causes rather than the surface / presenting problems
  • Taps in to their deep body of technical know-how to shape and develop practical and pragmatic solutions
  • Understands the fundamentals of change management and in particular the necessity for key stakeholders to be engaged and involved in the change process
  • Is disciplined and structured in the way they plan change and implementation – and remain disciplined and vigilant in the delivery of those action plans
  • Is collaborative in their approach to working both with consulting colleagues when working in consulting teams, and collaborative in their work with their clients
  • Is concerned to ensure that their clients are active participants in the change process
  • Recognises that benefits realisation is key to the success of the project and that benefits are both tangible and intangible, organisation wide and also personal to their clients and sponsors
  • Is flexible in their approach and methodology – not a slave to their methodology
  • Is inquisitive and open to new learning
  • Is business savvy
  • Is aware of and sensitive to the ‘dynamics’ of change processes – interplay

If you can help me improve this list do let me know.

My descriptions of the Beyond Good Consultant and the Great Consultant follow in the next blogs.

How do you become a great consultant? Simple question, tough to answer

I was recently asked what it took to get from being a good consultant to being a great one.  A simple question, and one that I thought I could answer quite easily having been a consultant for 30 years. However its the simple questions that prompt the deepest thought. And the more I reflected the less sure I knew what a great consultant was.  I had a handle on what being a good consultant is but the jump from good to great is a big leap indeed.  To bridge the gap I worked on what I thought the qualities of the ‘beyond good’ consultant are.  It turned out to be quite straight-forward to describe. That done I turned to the ‘great’ category – and had a go.  Easier I thought to understand the great consultant through the client’s eyes, and with that perspective in mind and with the  ‘beyond good’ characteristics sorted it became an easier task.

I’ve summarised the characteristics of the Good, Beyond Good, and The Great Consultant in the next three blogs.

I know they can be improved and I’d welcome your feedback and comments to help do so.