- Open and apolitical (freedom from roles) – Not hiding behind titles, labels, degrees or roles. Resists using labels to manipulate the client. Ability to demonstrate a capacity for self-disclosure and mutual sharing in the consultant client relationship. Does not get embroiled in politics.
- Spontaneous and enthusiastic – Not constantly weighing up responses, although tactful and considerate. Responsive rather than pre-planned.
- Assertive/non defensive – Responds assertively but empathetically. Willing to consider client’s point of view. Does not retreat or counter attack when challenged by the client. Is able to stand his ground.
- Consistent – Consistent in expressing thoughts, feelings and behavior. No discrepancies or inconsistencies in behavior evident.
- Reliable and trustworthy – Can be depended on regarding punctuality, quality of output, discretion and client loyalty.
- Willing to learn / Lifelong learning– Although an expert in numerous areas, must be able to learn from own and others’ mistakes and experience. “Does not have the time to make all the mistakes himself”. The consultant hardly ever knows more about the client’s business than the client. Is continuously researching new methods, practices and trends.
- Understanding – Ability to solve the client’s problems not push “canned” or “cookie cutter” solutions. Seeks “win-win” solutions.
- Outcomes/results/solutions oriented – Focused on getting results which are in the client’s best interests and not simply on the process of getting there.
- Dedication and commitment to client service and success – Service orientation and puts the client’s interests first – sometimes even above the consulting firm’s interests.
- Sense of timing – Impeccable sense of timing regarding feedback, opinions etc.
- Broad Sphere of influence – is able to influence all levels of society and client levels. Does not allow the client to “talk down” to him/ her.
- Ethical and honest – Trusted by the client, consulting firm and peers.
- Analytical, yet intuitive – Able to solve technical problems and be sensitive to underlying and hidden issues Ability to balance systemic, logical and intuitive thinking.
- Independent and objective – Is prepared to stand his ground and take an external, unbiased point of view. This is a critical consulting competence.
- Self-motivated – Is able to drive himself and does not require hands on management. This is a core emotional intelligence competence.
- Flexible – Ability to offer more than one solution according to client’s needs – able to adapt to multiple situations, cultures, environments.
- Creative, innovative – is able to come up with new perspectives, ideas and solutions. Can think “out of the box”.
- Practical – Provides practical input and solutions. Reasonable in time and cost
- Persistent and tenacious – Persistent in seeking solutions and getting the job done. If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
- Participative/team player – Works well in any team, whether in the firm or with client staff.
- Consideration and concern – Consideration and concern for client, society, peers.
- Professional respect for and loyalty to colleagues – Does not bad mouth the profession, competitors or colleagues. This is a professional competence common to all professions.
- Well rounded – able to deal with many situations and have multiple competencies.
A useful exercise is to compare the above with the professional code of conduct for consultants and try to identify any potential gaps that may arise. Then ask yourself whether this is a specific omission or whether you can include this characteristic or expectation under a broader description.
Note these for yourself
- What would be different in the above for an internal consultant?
- How would you relate to the foregoing roles and characteristics?