Being a consultant is more than a calling

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Does one become consultant as a satisfying career move or because of lack of other options?
Farid Yandouz: Becoming a consultant is an excellent catalyst for professional development! It is not always pursued just as a way of bringing fulfilment to a career. You must have noticed the incredible confusion related to the title of consultants amongst both customers and so-called consultants. There are no rules, which govern a consultant’s journey, but there are two professional development which lead to this profession:
1. The solid technical skills, which make a consultant an expert in his or her field
2. The range of cross-corporate experiences of an expert, which allow him or her to provide efficient benchmarking

Is solid expertise enough to earn a place in the world of consulting?
Farid Yandouz: To understand the type of skills required of a consultant, you must be open to the state of mind of the customer calling upon the consultant’s services. It is not enough to simply declare yourself a consultant, or to follow either or both of the journeys described above, a consultant must be truly be perceived as such by the customer. A client’s perception of a consultant’s services generally revolves around the concept of Trusted Advisor. In either of the cases mentioned, it is essential that the consultant’s posture follow guidelines revolving around the trust the customer grants to the proclaimed expertise. Much has been written on this theme, such “Everyday consulting”, a collective work coordinated by David Autissier & Jean-Michael Moutot, published by Dunod.

What advice would you give to those who want to clear a path to self-employment for themselves?
Farid Yandouz: The basic principles of consulting are often misunderstood, not through ill will, but generally through misguided assessment of the outlines of the trades. A successful consultant must always bear in mind that experience can be his or her own worst enemy. Experts at their cutting edge of their field must control the superiority complex which the length and breadth of the experience might provide them with. It is quite a challenge, after 10, 15 or 20 years focusing on specific issues, to be able to take a step back, see the wider picture and provide customers with solid advice and robust solutions. Once that step has been taken though, the perception of the consultant as a Trusted Advisor becomes well established and legitimate.

If it’s free, you’re the product!

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The result you achieve can only be directly proportional to what you invest. The old saying, ‘you get what you pay for’ is a good illustration of this fact. This said, in ‘transactional’ social interactions, we’re always on the lookout for a great deal or wary of insider trading. We are, indiscriminately, tempted by transactions blatantl Continuez à lire

Coaching & Consulting: Intruders are not welcome!

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How many times do we meet coaches or consultants in need of coaching or assistance themselves yet declare themselves to be the best of the best? How many times have we asked ourselves what criteria they use to proclaim themselves as such? Unfortunately, the answer to both these questions is ‘quite often’, if not every day. Although coaching and consulting are clearly noble professions providing solid value for money, we feel growing unease and confusion in the face of blatant abuse, in every way possible, of the titles linked with them.

 

Coaching & consulting are regulated trades in certain countries, un-regulated in many others. Because there are no well established trade bodies, titles are often inflated. We are often confronted with the premature pretension and disproportionate ambition of people looking to move on after a career setback. There is certainly nothing wrong with re-branding one’s self as a consultant after a professional reversal or changing tack after a successful career. Indeed, it is clearly constructive for these people to share their insights with less experienced professionals. Not addressing the causes of this setback, and entering a trade with grand declarations far removed from daily reality is not, however, a constructive approach.

 

Admittedly, many of the greatest consulting & coaching achievements were the result of terrible failures or much soul searching that some celebrity coach or consultant applied successfully to themselves or to others. For example, Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology, or the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who spent about a decade and a half enclosed in their psychological angst before re-engaging the world with revelations and theories which eventually both seduced and impacted humanity for centuries. We can’t expect all coaches & consultants to shut themselves off for years to prove themselves worthy, but they do nonetheless need to meet certain basic criteria. Coaching and consulting service providers must:

• Love their profession and not enter it only as an escape from past failure

• Update their skill-set constantly through experimentation, training and self-training.

• Be professional enough to know their limits and to state as necessary which services are outside their field of competence.

 

Finally, to enhance the value created by coaches & consultants and the impact of their missions, customers of intellectual services play a key role through management practices & approaches. Customers have a duty to:

• Analyse, for the duration of the mission and not just at the beginning, the pertinence of selecting this coach or consultant based on their track record and the methods they recommend in the projects assigned to them

• Monitor quality of services provided through performance indicators measuring sustainable results rather the quick win results of low-hanging fruits.

• Evaluate the coach or consultant’s ability to use benchmarking and innovation processes tailored to the customer profile with mid and long term result projections.

• Analyse, in delivery mode, the consultant’s capacity to take on an exceptional workload or to monitor the operational support provided by a coach in response to short term issues.

Managing Difficult People: Avoid jumping to conclusions!

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With active listening, NLP, transactional analysis and even entire books addressing this topic (such as François Lelord’s, published by Eyrolles), there is abundant literature detailing best practices in the management of difficult personalities / people. This said, the complexity of this issue lies in fact in false difficulty rather than in available solutions! Continuez à lire