Consultants work on confidence. It is a profession where we sell ourselves, our services, our products all focussed on solving our client’s problems and finding solutions to challenges that require an objective perspective.
Confidence is a great thing and something you have seen me advocate as an important prerequisite for success. It is built upon experience, learning, evaluation and insights you gain over a period of time and working with different clients, industries and situations.
However, there are instances where you see consultants go from having confidence to driving clients and outcomes from a position of arrogance with a client. Rather than confidence from previous experience driving engagement with the client, arrogance prevails. This takes the form of telling the client what you think before you understand their real issues, making assumptions around what is best for a client, and not taking the time to dig a little deeper to understand the cause of the problems rather than the symptoms.
The underlying reason behind the arrogance normally is associated with a consultant’s ego. They attach their self-worth and status to how they are perceived or their years of experience which they are itching to tell others about. This includes being seen as the purveyor of knowledge, insights and learning’s that the client does not possess. What would the client know around key areas that we practice every day? They should be privileged to have us working with them – right?
The opposite is actually true. The most valued asset for a consultant is the client. Their understanding of their business, their current frustrations, their challenges and their insights. Taking the time to really listen to them is where the ability to add value as a consultant lies. We take all the various pieces of the client puzzle in all areas of their business and bring it together as a report, learning’s, valued outcomes or an experience.
Having the ability to bring this all together is what great consultants do; i.e. seeking to understand first so that our insights can be understood. We take our client for the journey and value their knowledge of their business, processes and people. We then are able to objectively filter this feedback to add enormous value to their businesses.
This cannot be done if you put your all-encompassing knowledge on to your client. Leave your ego at the door and watch the insights flow to you from your most valuable asset – your client’s challenges and insights. You may just learn something along the journey!