I think there’s a a bit of a misconception in our industry.
That you need to be aggressive to be an effective consultant.
I’ve noticed it from the beginning (at least MY beginning). It’s not a rule that’s written on a chalkboard or bulletin board anywhere. Or in a text book.
But, that seems to be the general consensus.
Talk forcefully in client meetings.
Always be sure to share a strong opinion.
Always speak first.
Always be selling.
Or, risk being labeled “ineffective.”
But, I have a different viewpoint. While some of the traits above should be a part of any consultant’s makeup (having strong opinions is one of them), I reject the notion that you need to be aggressive to be a great consultant.
Because I’m living proof.
Aggressive is probably about the last word anyone who’s ever met me would use to describe me.
But, I’m hardly passive. I’m probably more “Minnesota Nice” than anything.
In reality, I’ve found a middle ground, and a way to be somewhat successful.
Because being aggressive isn’t the only way to consult.
My approach? Easy–I try to embody four simple qualities each day:
Be a great listener
Probably no big surprise here. But, asking the right questions is key to any consultant’s success. What I’m talking about is serving more in the role of psychotherapist–because that’s been a key role I’ve played with many different clients over the years. You see, sometimes clients just want to talk. About work. About colleagues. About life. And when they do, I’m there to listen. How does that help me? Think about your best friends–aren’t they also good listeners? Isn’t that what makes a great friend? Same goes for a good consultant.
Relates directly to the psychotherapist role. And here’s the great thing: By serving in that role, you learn a whole lot about your client. What makes them tick. What pisses them off. What their passions are. And then, you can find ways to work better with them, avoid making them angry, and provide encouragement throughout the day.
Be a good person
No one wants to work with an a++hole. No one. So, just don’t be one then. There’s one mantra my wife and I preach to our kids all the time: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Pretty simple, yet people continue to break that rule day after day.
Be easy to work with
You know who people DO want to work with? Good people (see above) who are E-A-S-Y to work with. Why would you want to work with someone who is difficult? Who challenges you at every turn? Who gossips and talks about others behind their backs? I’m not sure I know anyone who wants to work with a person like that.
My two cents and approach. You?