The job of being a consultant is not easy. I can say this not because I have tremendous experience in this field. No, I don’t have any experience officially. Yet I can say this, because though not professionally, but in my personal life I had been unofficially appointed a consultant to a lot of people, friends, family members, cousins, youngsters, and even elders sometimes. A lot of questions on a plethora of subjects have been hurled at me in “n” number of situations. Be it a technical problem or an emotional problem, somehow I had always been the first “go to” preference for all. Issues ranging from “I cannot figure out how the new T.V. works” to “My kid is making my life miserable”, I have seen them all. No, I don’t have a 100% success rate, but what I have learnt is how consultants can actually succeed.
Patience is important for every consultant, professional or non-professional. If I am a consultant in any field, I have to have the patience to understand the actual problem of the client. Every client has a different problem. They all might appear similar but that is what being a consultant means. We have to understand the depth of it, why exactly the client is facing it, what is the root behind it. Every client is unique for a consultant; every client needs a unique solution from the consultant which is customized to their specific needs. I cannot give a same solution that I gave to a distraught lover to a troubled parent. Similarly, “I can’t manage my accounts” is not the same as “I can’t manage my inventory.” It is very important for a consultant to make out this difference; otherwise the solution will never come out right.
Many people argue that consulting is about logic, technical expertise and being aware of the macro-environment. Agreed. But consulting is not all about this. With just logic and awareness we can’t convince a client to adopt the solutions we provide. Criticizing the client’s existing practices is a part of our job, but it is also a part of our job to make the client trust in us. When the client gives us a job, it is an “act of faith”. If we straight away start criticizing them, they lose that belief that we will solve their problem. We have to speak with conviction, tell them that “yes, we understand your problem” and make them believe us. We have to give them the belief that their problem is our problem, and we will solve it the best way possible.
There is another primary quality that a consultant should have, and that is courage; the courage to stick to the plans that we have set; the courage of doing something new. And we should not only have courage within ourselves, but we also need to instill this courage in our clients, because we need them to believe in us and what we do for them.
Being a consultant is not easy. A good consultant is a compound of patience, conviction, courage, empathy, and of course logic and technical knowledge. But there is one thing that all consultants need to have, and that is passion; passion to be the ladder of growth, to be the guide to the path of success. Without the passion to help, without the care for others, a consultant can never be a consultant.