Three Superpowers of Great Consultants
Featured article by Diana Alt
In my career, I’ve done a lot of things.
I’ve been a career and business coach, entrepreneur, product manager, project manager, and a whole host of other things.
But one of my favorite roles of all has been consultant.
People have a lot of different impressions of consultants. Some love them, and some are more skeptical.
And you know what?
The wrong consultant can be an expensive disruption for your project.
Great Consultants – now that’s a completely different ballgame.
Great Consultants (you know, the ones who blend their awesome expertise with an innate ability to partner with clients) have superpowers that can change the game for your team.
Great Consultant Superpower #1: The Sounding Board
I consult with small business owners quite a lot. It’s not uncommon for these clients to refer to me as their conscience, or to express relief that they have someone around. They can have conversations with me that they can’t have with anyone else.
Top technology leaders in my network say they get the same benefit from consultants. After all, CIOs and CTOs typically don’t have peers inside their organization.
Serving as a sounding board takes many forms.
Sometimes, it means tweaking good strategies that are already in development with my clients. This feels awesome to everyone because client leaders get some validation that they weren’t too far off track – particularly valuable if someone else in the client organization wasn’t wild about the strategy.
The more rewarding conversations are different though.
They are the conversations where I end up telling hard truths to the client.
This actually happens more than I expected – after all, before I started my most recent consulting engagements with small business owners, I worked for corporations whose leaders often acted like they had all the answers.
When you find yourself in a conversation with a Great Consultant that takes this type of turn…
LET THE CONVERSATION HAPPEN.
Great Consultants will tell you when your product strategy isn’t right, when your business model isn’t right, and when your team isn’t right.
The very BEST consultants will tell you when you aren’t serving your team right, and help you figure out how to improve.
Great Consultant Superpower #2: Unrelenting Inquisitiveness
Regardless of whether you have hired your Great Consultant to work on a problem with people, process, or technology, it is certain that he or she will do something amazing.
They will start asking more questions than a four-year-old.
“Why do you do it that way?”
“What led to the decision to implement that technology?”
“How does that process impact your customers?”
“What makes this important to your business?”
LET THEM ASK.
And also, ANSWER THEM HONESTLY.
Encourage all your team members to do the same.
Those eleventy-four zillion questions that a Great Consultant will ask your team are absolutely critical to helping them get to the heart of the matter, which will lead your team to solutions much more quickly.
Even better? The solutions will be appropriate for YOUR context.
Great Consultant Superpower #3: Unification
I have a close friend, Sharon, who owns a consultancy specializing in Microsoft 365 technologies. You know, stuff like Teams, Office, Outlook, and SharePoint.
You know what she spends more time on than anything else in her consulting practice?
It’s not Microsoft technologies.
It’s user adoption and organizational change management.
A Great Consultant will help you bring along everyone impacted by the changes the solutions you are implementing will require. It may take longer than you “think” it should take to effect change.
LET IT TAKE A LITTLE LONGER.
Sharon would tell you the best technologies in the world don’t do anyone a lick of good if you can’t get everyone aligned on when and how to start using them. They also die a fairly quick death if you don’t have plans to keep users engaged.
So, work with your Great Consultant on change management. Use them to bring stakeholders together so that your solutions are embraced in a way that leads to maximum impact.
Great Consultants are worth their weight in gold. Once you find your Great Consultants, if you truly trust the process and let them do their thing, they can take your team places you might never have expected.
The best thing you can do is … LET THEM.
About the Author
Diana Alt is a connector and problem solver who loves to use the skills she’s gathered throughout 20+ years in corporate product development roles to help people manage their careers and business. Diana helps people get out of their own way so they can unleash their awesomeness on the world. She’s guided by the principle that work should feel GOOD, not like a long slow march towards oblivion. Diana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.linkedin.com/in/dianakalt/