One of the best things about mentoring other consultants is the opportunity it gives me to reflect on what I do as a consultant and why.
This week our group was exploring the topic of gaining and retaining leadership buy-in and it caused me to stop and really think why this matters so much and it all boils down to this -
The one thing that we all really want from others in order to trust them is confidence that when they make decisions they take into account what's in our best interest.
When I train consultants on the importance of doing an assessment and taking the time to deeply listen to stakeholders (whether they are executives, managers, employees or customers) it's not just about a consulting approach that generates revenue for them. It's about being a a conduit to help those people in the organization be heard and have a voice on issues that effect them.
What most leaders (and even consultants) don't get about creating employee engagement is that it's not about making sure everyone has a friend at work or a leader who knows their name. It's about fostering decision-making processes, starting with the senior leaders at the top, that considers the perspectives of all stakeholders and only saying "yes" to things that are in EVERYONE'S best interest.
The real reason why employee engagement is such a challenge today is because there are far too many evidences that leaders have only one filter for decisions and that is short-term profitability. Don't get me wrong - I honor and respect that one of a business' stakeholders is the P&L statement, but it's not the ONLY stakeholder.
I think one of the reasons why I have been a successful consultant for as long as I have is because even when I make mistakes or get overly opinionated and direct, my clients know that my heart's desire and default position is that that I am an advocate for their success. That the fuel behind what I do is to represent the entire organization's best interest. It's not a strategy that I use to win clients. It's a value that I live by and hold dear.
The bottomline, my fellow purpose and value driven consultants, is two things:
1. When you worry about about not having enough experience or credentials - stop, take a beat and remind yourself that what really matters is that you authentically care about your clients and solving their challenges. When they experience your commitment to their success, they'll give you all kinds of leeway to make mistakes and not be perfect. As ancient wisdom tells us, "Love makes up for practically anything."
2. If you have clients that struggle with employee or customer engagement, offer them this simple solution: Encourage leaders at top to widen their decision-making filters to be inclusive of all stakeholders (customers, employees, leaders and business results.) When you help senior leaders understand the importance of asking people for input on decisions that affect them AND take that input into consideration they will be equipped with their fastest and heart-centered way to create trust. Because again - what we all want is to have a voice that's heard, validated AND considered.
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