Today is April Fool's Day. Doesn't feel like a day to be pranking each other given the current global health and economic crisis. But that doesn't mean we can't celebrate the Fool archetype.
I am a massive fan of mythology and archetypes. In fact, I love the archetypes so much that I became a certified archetype consultant through Caroline Myss' CMED program. To me archetypes are a short-hand way to connect our individual stories to transcendent universal ones.
Archetypes the secret behind all the success of the movies that we love. We don't just watch Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter or Shrek go on magical journeys. We see the Hero and his journey in action. We love Tom Hanks because he is the Everyman that we all can relate to. Hugh Jackman is the Warrior that overcomes incredible odds for the sake of freedom - from Curly in Oklahoma, Valjean in Les Miserables and PT Barnum in The Greatest Showman.
Right now we're in the age of the Fool....
Oil...water, consultants...marketing. In general, consultants are not the biggest fans of marketing, even in the best of times. The marketing challenge is definitely exacerbated in times like these, when there is a massive threat to our global health and economy.
But here's the deal - how you treat your clients (those you already know and are working with AND the ones you don't know yet that you meet through marketing) could define your consulting brand.
If you say and do nothing, you might be perceived as out of touch and irrelevant. If you get super aggressive, you might be seen as an ambulance chaser.
So what can you do? Let me give you a few ideas:
As a business mentor to aspiring consulting and coaching business owners, I deal with people who have been laid off all the time. I sit with their shame and fear as they find their courage to pursue the entrepreneurial dreams that the layoff simply accelerated. It's hard enough when it's only your career that takes a hit. For many who are dealing with layoffs right now, it's a career hit, in the middle of a health crisis, in a market where no one is hiring.
Here's some advice that hopefully will help you cope and see the light at the end of this trial:
Getting laid off, even in times like now, is a shock to the system. The losses are on multiple levels that begin with money and fears around how you're going to provide for yourself and your loved ones. But the real shame that keeps many people stuck is the personal rejection after years of investing oneself and talents to help grow someone else's bottom-line. On a rational level you...
"Playing small" is making choices that put a lid on your true potential. It's the part of you that wants to protect your comfort, security and validation in the short-term at the expense of what is possible in the long-term.
These feelings are particularly acute for both new and seasoned consulting and coaching business owners which in comparison to other business owners, growing to the next level is personal because your business is based on you. Your ideas. Your expertise.
It's hard for everyone to step outside their comfort zone, but for you, it can be excruciating because it can feel that not just the business is at risk but everything you have worked so hard to achieve will come crashing down.
You're probably very well aware of the impact that playing small is having on your self-esteem and business results. You're not getting your website copy done, under-charging your clients, and taking work that makes you feel more like an employee vs. an advisor.
Do you want more consulting clients? Of course you do.
Let me tell you one way that you're NOT going to get them: trying to be everything to everybody.
I know you have a lot of things you're great at and you don't want to have to choose between all the ways you can help your clients.
But here's the deal - you don't have to and you actually shouldn't.
A clear consulting brand and niche is not about picking a favorite methodology and getting known for that. In fact, that's a recipe for failure over the long-term as this approach will guarantee your market positioning as an "extra pair of hands" and "trading time for money" commodity.
A clear consulting brand and niche is about dialing into the client that is ideal for YOU. It's that client that you deeply care about helping that also wants and needs your ideas and approach to consulting. It's about filling your pipeline with the type of clients that you LOVE working with and who LOVE working with you (and...
The cold, hard facts about the consulting profession is that most change efforts fail. The failure has little to do with the quality of our project plans or recommended message points. Failure has everything do with ineffective change leadership at the top.
It's for this reason, the number predictor of the sustainability and impact of our work is the commitment of the leader that we are supporting, who is ultimately responsible for the change's success.
If you want to make a greater difference with your consulting, it begins with shifting your perspective on what your role is ultimately about. It's not about delivering a methodology. It's about supporting a leader through what are often their defining moments.
Your clients are not simply buyers representing an organization. They are people first who...
The other day I wrote an article on the difference between power over and power with/within leadership approaches. In a nutshell "power over" leadership is all about control and dominance and finding one's source of power from a position, titles, salary, etc. vs. "power with and with" leadership which is all about mutuality and cooperation and finding one's source of power from inside one's own wisdom, self-esteem and humility.
The next logical question is how then do leaders grow from "power over" leadership into "power with and within" leadership.
To fully understand and appreciate that the differences between the two approaches to power isn't about style or personality. It's about maturity and the values that show up in different stages of a leader's growth journey. There are four stages of power in leadership and organizations.
At the end of the day, executive leadership is about power.
The quality of an executive isn't defined by whether or not they take the time to get to walk their areas and get to know their employees personally. The quality of a leader also isn't defined by how motivational their speeches are or how shrewd their policies are or how fast they can deliver results.
Instead, the quality of an executive is defined by where they get their power and if they use the power that they hold to make decisions that benefit the entire realm that they are in charge of: employees, customers and shareholders.
There are two kinds of power: Power Over and Power With and Within.
"Power Over" leadership is:
Do you feel overwhelmed by the issues and challenges your clients are experiencing? Do unhealthy work environments and power-over leadership practices burn you out and drain you?
If so, you might be an empath. An empath is someone with an extremely reactive neurological system which causes them to absorb both the positive and stressful energies around them.
I'm an Empath.
I didn't realize I was an empath for a long time. I started to suspect that I was when I was presenting some difficult feedback to a client about their sales practices. I had sat with over 100 focus group participants and heard story after story about the impact of the company's unethical sales practices on their lives. And I was heartbroken when the client disregarded the feedback.
Being an empath in a profession like ours, where you see the underbelly of organizations and leaders, can be hard. You have a superpower because of how well you understand the hearts and minds of everyone in your client...
Over the years there has been one particular roadblock that I watch both new and experienced consultants and coaches hit time and time again. The truth is, I hit the same roadblock when I first started.
We all know we have tremendous value to offer our clients.
We can see the transformation that’s waiting for them….
…But when it comes time to put that value into words and communicate it to those same clients?
Unable to quantify our value.
This is what I want to start to unpack for you in this article.
To do this, I have to first expose the myths.
Your value isn't found in your tools. It's in how you use your tools that matters.
A carpenter may have a hammer, screwdriver and drill and perhaps the best ones on the market. But as a customer we don't care about his tools. We care about how what he does with those tools to build something...
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