To be honest, I don’t often think of myself as a consultant. The words executive coach, strategic planning facilitator, trainer, keynote speaker and assessment expert all come to mind before business consultant. And yet, that’s exactly what my clients in Cincinnati (and all over America) think of me as. Which got me thinking about what makes a perfect consultant.
Business leaders hire consultants for a multitude of reasons. In some cases, they need specific expertise on a temporary basis. In other situations, they want an adviser for a long term, multidisciplinary relationship.
The common denominator for a consultant is impartiality. He or she brings an outside perspective. And because they aren’t actual employees, they are free to speak truth to power.
The best business consultants have a wealth of experience from other companies and industries. That cross pollination of ideas if often one of the biggest benefits of working with an outside business adviser.
Great consultants have excellent judgment. While this is a subjective area, it’s crucial. Consultants weigh in on matters large and small. Business owners and executives need to be able to trust the advice they receive. And consultants need to know how hard they can push people and organizations.
Consultants must stay current. The world is changing quickly, so old ideas may not work anymore. They read. Continuous learning is part of their DNA.
Top-performing consultants help make their clients more successful. There’s a track record of growth and prosperity. Customers return for more.
But perhaps the most important characteristic of a perfect consultant is someone who cares. They care about the business owners as well as the employees. Their success, happiness and well-being are central to the outcome.
In my 17 years as a business consultant, I’ve had to tell people things they didn’t want to hear. I did it because they had to hear it. And it almost always worked. Sure, I typically think of myself as an executive coach or strategic planner from Cincinnati. And if I can ever help you, please give me a shout. But I’ll never stop trying to become the perfect consultant.