Forging a strong client relationship is not a matter of chance. It is the result of choice and whether or not the consultant has taken charge of the positioning process. Unlike other roles in an organization, consultants hold no formal position on the organization chart. It is up to the consultant to carve out the position. If consultants do not take charge of the positioning process, it will be done for them by their clients which may cause them to fall into one of two traps.
The first trap is what I would call the Surrogate Leadership Trap. Consulting is not the same as leading, which can be seen in the visual above.
Many consultants by virtue of their natural leadership abilities or past executive experience are invited to play a role that involves more than simply giving expert advice or recommendations but rather step into the role that the client is supposed to be playing. And if the consultant has been a leader in the past, this is a huge temptation.
Trying to lead...
Content marketing is not some marketing fad.
It’s simply the smartest way of finding and connecting with your ideal client, establishing your credibility, increasing your number of discovery meetings and close rates as well as giving you the platform to increasing your fees.
Content marketing is essential for consultants because we are in the knowledge business. We don't sell a tangible product or service. Our value add contribution lies in our heads and hearts and content is the best way to manifest this expertise in a way that connects with our future strategic partners.
If you're not implementing a content marketing strategy, you are leaving money (and credibility) on the table.
If content doesn't come easily to you or you're not sure how to get started, let me give you a few pointers.
First, be clear on who your ideal client is and what is their pain points. It all starts here. If you are unsure who you want to serve, your marketing messages and...
The number one way that really smart consultants get in the way of their own success is struggling with the fear that that they don't have what it takes.
Despite years of education and experience they stay up at night wondering what is the best way to let their future clients know about how much they know and what they can bring to the table. They pursue certification after certification hoping that one of them will be the silver bullet that will make them irresistible in the marketplace.
But here's the thing - your clients don't care about how smart you are. And the more you worry about it and try to force yourself to shamelessly self-promote and showcase what you think is all that you know you can bring to the table - you have already sub-optimized your effectiveness.
Again, your clients don't care how smart you are. They don't care about your certifications or even your degrees.
Instead this is what they care about and what they really want to know about you:
Authentic leadership isn't a style. It's a stage of maturity and growth. Authentic leadership is where power and love intersect. Power and use of power are familiar concepts in business and the defining power as control, authority, capacity and influence is more than likely readily understandable and accessible. Love is a different story.
When I talk about love, I am not talking about the feelings shared between parents and children, friends or even lovers. I am talking the concept of love as expressed in Greek as agape which relates more to service and esteem.
Sources of power can be internal or external. Focuses of love can be internal or external. How these relate to one another result in one of four leadership styles:
One of the most hilarious Saturday Night Live skits is the one where Christopher Walken demands from the “Don’t Fear the Reaper” band (Blue Oyster Cult) that he needed more cowbell from Will Ferrell. I was watching this skit the other day with a good friend of mine who is an actor. When we finally got a hold of ourselves and wiped the tears from our eyes after laughing so hard, he explained that this was so funny because Christopher Walken was just so committed to his role. He further explained that this type of commitment is the secret behind why Jim Carrey is so funny. Whatever they do, they do it with their whole hearts and don’t worry about making fools of themselves. When this friend portrayed the Quasimodo in live stage show “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, multiple times a day for a number of years, he kept the show fresh because of his commitment to the part. He always looked for a new ways to bring this story to life.
It’s not just in the...
One of the most challenging experiences you'll ever encounter as a consultant is dealing with your client's resistance to change.
We get blindsided by this all-to-common reality because we are only working with our clients because they at some point expressed a desire to change.
But when reality hits - they act like it was OUR idea.
Let me explain what is happening inside your client and why they are all of the sudden backpedaling on their commitment.
They think that if they change and mature, they are going to become something that they don't want to be, which in most cases some mythical image of a large bureaucratic company that has lost its ability to have fun and be creative. It's not unlike a teenager thinking that if they take on more responsibility and grow in their maturity they are going to be their joy-killing, stodgy parents.
In my latest episode from my podcast series Consulting Matters: Mastering the Art & Science of the Business I...
When it comes to organizational change, most consultants think it's either all about project plans OR it's about managing the emotions and resistance that come with change.
But the truth is - it's both.
Leading change is both an art and a science. Your clients need to get to understand that there is a science behind how their organizational systems function and how changes in one part forces change in another. And they need to appreciate that there is no magic formula and there is an art when it comes to appreciating the impact on their own people.
And as a consultant, you have to offer them balanced solution that helps them towards this end.
In the second podcast in my series Consulting Matters: Mastering the Art and Science of the Business, I will share with you:
Alan was the CIO of an Information Technology organization that had employees across the globe. His instincts were absolutely correct – his organization was not set up to deliver what it needed to for his team’s internal clients and the company’s external customers. He started an initiative to re-organize his department. He did many things right – he brought in outside expertise, he got strong project managers, and he set up an effective cross-functional project team. However, a project that should have lasted six months, went on for a year. His executive team not only was not supportive of the project but spoke vehemently against it. The IT employees were even less productive than when the project began because their anxiety was an all time high. At the end of the year, corporate took over this department, installed a new CIO and Alan was demoted significantly.
Jack was a City Manager and Susan was his Assistant City Manager. Together they lead the teams...
“There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body.”
I created this visual to depict the essence of what it takes to create healthy organizations and sustainable success: respect, appreciation and value of each part of the organizational system.
Every business line matters, regardless of the business model or competitive advantage. A “sales driven” company cannot exist without an amazing operations team who consistently delivers on promises. An “efficiency focused” company’s profits are still fueled by revenue generated through sales and customer service. And no company can stay in business for long without the contributions of the Human Resources, Finance, IT, Legal/Risk teams.
Every role matters, regardless of positioning and compensation. Executives cannot lead without the support of their administrative assistant and direct reports. Managers cannot execute without the contributions of...
Imagine this scene. There is an operating room with patient prepped for surgery and lying on the table. The anesthesia has taken effect and the surgeons and the rest of the medical team are positioned for the big event. The surgeon utters the words which we all know from medical TV dramas signals it is time for action, “Scalpel…”
But what if this scene were instead a first office visit and the surgeon decided after hearing a few complaints that surgery was the answer and started cutting right then and there? The scalpel, instead of being viewed as a revered tool of healing, now becomes more like a knife in the hands of someone who could easily be categorized as a criminal, because a competent surgeon would never cut into a patient without a full-scale diagnosis. First, blood would be drawn and CT scans and MRI’s would be ordered.
The fact is that organization redesign is like surgery on an organization. You as a leader are the surgeon and your organization...
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