“A consultant is a person in a position to have some influence over an individual, a group, or an organization, but who has no direct power to make changes or implement programs.” A manager is someone who has direct responsibility over the action. The moment you take direct responsibility, you are acting as a manager.” ~ Peter Block
I’ve been consulting on various things for around 3 years now – anything from social commerce, social media , to customer strategy, to international business growth (and probably a few other random things as well) and I’ve definitely tried quite a mix of approaches and techniques and some were far less successful than others. I have definitely played the role of the manager and the consultant (even though I should have always been the consultant) and have learned quite a bit from my successes and failures along the way.
Peter Block laid out what I consider to be the best set of skills required for a consultant, I only wish I would have read them 5 years ago…actually no I don’t, because I learned some valuable lessons by coming up with my own way of doing things…on to Peter Block’s consulting skills:
This refers to your area of expertise, you don’t need to be a “master” per say but you need to have some knowledge or expertise in a particular area. For example, marketing, sales, I.T, etc. You must have some level of expertise in a particular area in order for people to ask for your advice.
Consulting is all about dealing with people either as individuals or in groups whether they be entry level employees or C-suite executives. Regardless of who you are talking to you need to be able to put your ideas into a coherent string of words and sentences that other people can understand. You also need to be able to give support when and where needed and be able to disagree in a reasonable and rational way. Oddly enough I believe that many people lack this set of interpersonal skills, they may be smart and they may have great ideas but they simply lack “people” skills.
According to Block, consulting projects go through a series of five phases and the skills required here are to be able to take clients through each of the steps successfully. The phases are:
- Entry and contracting
- Discovery and dialogue
- Feedback and the decision to act
- Engagement and implementation
- Extension, recycle, or termination
What do you think makes a good consultant? What have you learned during the course of your consulting practice or working with other consultants? Do you agree with Peter Block?