Friday, July 10, 2009

Business Consulting - 10 Qualities of a Successful Consultant

What Sets Successful Consultants Apart? Are you part of a Management Team that is considering engaging a Business Consultant? Are you a Consultant who is considering a Consulting Job? This Article Covers 10 Qualities of a Successful Consultant.

1. Know the Client. It is not enough to know about the client's business or industry, or to offer up boilerplate solutions. Consultants must understand the history, mission and goals as relates to their tasking and, any relevant information about competitors and stakeholders. In essence, they are being paid to be an extension of the organization's team by helping to carry out key objectives through successful execution. In order to do that, it is critical that consultants understand the client's business.

2. They Listen. Consultants need to be expert listeners in order to accurately assess, advise and apply their expertise and acquired discovery for the benefit of the client. It's important to note that there is a substantial difference between hearing and listening. Listening gives us the ability to formulate the right questions and deduce accurate information from which to base our solutions.

3. Proper Connections. The sooner a consultant connects with the right people in the organization, the better. Too often, consultants misread the inner workings of an organization or miss important elements that may be key to their decision-making by catering exclusively to the top level. Successful consultants will pro-actively engage and connect with all of the key people who in any way, relate to their objectives.

4. Customization. When it comes to processes, people, communications, strategies and solutions--one size does not fit all. Great consultants put their experience and intuition into practice while analyzing, discovering and rendering solutions, and looking to best practices as a companion guide, but not as an exacting science.

5. Discernment. Critically, they must see the whole picture--that includes processes and people. Once they have identified all relevant components and dynamics, they will be able to start outlining how things fit together and begin to work toward formulating successful solutions. They also have a knack for not only seeing what is there, but what's not there--discernment can be pivotal.

6. They Deliver. Perfectly crafted proposals, shining referrals and resumes do not guarantee success. When a business pays for expert analysis, skill and advice from outside of their internal pool of expertise, consultants need to deliver-and deliver to the client's satisfaction.

7. Best Alignment. Not all consultants are cross--functional. Oftentimes, at the point a consultant is hired, the organization is desperate for help in building, making an important correction or securing a very specific skill set. They cannot afford to lose time or money. A consultant can hold multiple degrees or have decades of experience under their belt and still not be a good fit. Both the organization and the consultant need to be sure that they are the best alignment for one another.

8. Communication Excellence. Apart from possessing excellent verbal skills, the consultant should also have excellent listening skills and the ability to articulate. They need to be able to articulate pain points, goals and solutions. They should also keep all stakeholders informed, be prompt and clear with reports, and issue relevant feedback throughout the process.

9. On Their Game. Detail-oriented preparation, process and delivery are all important. They are also prompt, professional, organized, responsive and reliable. Staying on top of the latest trends and intelligence and being able to apply anything of relevance will also set them apart.

10. Create Value. Successful consultants create value by demonstrating business acumen and have the ability to lead and manage both processes and people. They are pro-active in understanding what the client needs, act as trusted advisors who bring the best solutions to the table in an effective and profitable manner, and they produce on their deliverables.

By author April McCallum -- who is passionate about Communications, Strategic Process, Innovation, and People. Her experience spans from International Global 500 and privately held companies, to Non-Profit and solo professional sectors, in the global high-tech, healthcare and media industries. Contact Info: http://www.linkedin.com/in/AprilOtisMcCallum

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