This is what consultants should be thinking. This is what consultants should be demonstrating through their work. When you have earned the right, say these words:
I am here to make you successful.
There are all kinds of people in this world – selfish, petty, greedy, angry. All kinds. This is also true of consultants. Every client has a story or two about a consultant who just “did not get it.” Money spent, egos hurt, politics, and always change. Our job, as (good) management consultants, is to have principles, smarts and a good heart. Mean it when you say it. Be-do-say.
This is not just platitudes. This is hard work. Think about what it will take to implement, Ask yourself some of the hard questions to visualize the effort:
- Who is your customer? All the executives or specific people?
- What will ultimately make the client and her organization successful?
- What is their time horizon? 6 months or 6 years?
- How much change is needed? How much relational equity do I need to create, and how much equity do I need to spend?
It’s not easy, nor should it be. As professionals, we attract problems. No matter how difficult it is, this heart-to-heart is perhaps the most important. Once the client starts to doubt your intentions, nothing good.
Remember Marvin Bower, the godfather of McKinsey and Company, understood this level of professionalism. Quote from the McKinsey website:
Bower held both a JD and an MBA from Harvard University. He adamantly believed that management consulting should be held to the same high standards for professional conduct and performance as law and medicine
We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Be bold, and don’t bore them. Remember, we are here to make them successful. Gotta remember that.
Post-script: 9/24, Today I followed my own advice. At the beginning of a meeting, I flipped over the presentation and spoke person-to-person with my client about what would make them successful. It was only after 30 minutes speaking that we actually got to the presentation. Why? Because my client’s success was the goal, and the presentation was just the tool. Amen.