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Some of the most important characteristics of a successful consultant are the exepcted: a structured mind, strong Maths, an ability to assimilate information fast. Perhaps less expected is that often only the truly sociable person will become a successful consultant, because of the 24/7 nature of the socialising that goes with consulting.
Not Your Typical Office Job
The way the media portrays management consulting is very different from what the job is really like. Consultants are trained to think outside the box. This also applies to their work schedule. Most consultants are required to work and travel on a regular basis, which can be very disconcerting. The traveling aspect is a concern for many consultants because it’s an unpredictable factor in their hectic schedule of meeting deadlines and writing reports.
Communication and Social Skills
A consultant must have strong communication and social skills—it’s an unavoidable aspect of the profession. Professionals are required to talk to clients and colleagues, report to their superiors, hold meetings, present at conferences, and more. Many individuals who simply try to present themselves as friendly or sociable won’t make the cut because consultants are required to be sociable 24/7. When a consultant isn’t at the office or in a meeting, he or she might be networking or taking a group of clients to lunch.
Quick and Organized Thinking
Management consultants are required to sift through endless amounts of information while formulating a solution, which requires a well-structured mind. It’s almost like stepping into the middle of a battlefield; a consultant may have an arsenal of frameworks memorized, but organized thinking also includes efficient application. A consultant must know when to use what he or she has learned in order to arrive at the best solution. Without this skill, it may take some time for an individual to reach a feasible solution; a luxury that most consultants don’t have.
Each client is different. Even if they are competitors in the same industry, working with the same products, services, and concerns, internally (i.e., structure, mission, forecasts) they are very different. A successful consultant is required to acclimate and adapt to the needs of the client as well as meet the objectives set by his or her superiors. This is not a simple feat, even though most consulting firms specialize in specific industries and sectors.
Work Exceptionally Well in a Team
A team of consultants who work well together can be a powerful force in a high caliber firm. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Management consultants who are great on their own but are unable to work well in a team can easily derail a project. Teamwork is an essential part of being a consultant. It’s not practical to attempt to do everything alone; those who try may burn themselves out. A highly successful consultant knows the strengths and weakness of each of his or her teammates and is able to maximize the potential of each member, which saves time and effort.
Superior Math Skills
A consultant must also be well versed in the technical aspect of the occupation. This includes mental math abilities as well as analytical skills. Even though calculators and spreadsheets are readily available, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be used for every calculation. Imagine pulling out a calculator in the middle of a presentation in front of the senior staff in a multi-national company—it doesn’t fit the image of an expert consultant. More importantly, the computation must be accurate. It’s true that most computations are rough averages or estimates, but even so, the margins provided by a management consultant aren’t too far off the actual mark.
Think Outside the Box (Creative Thinking)
One of the main reasons that leading companies hire management consultants is because of their point of view. It’s difficult to spot internal problems within a large company when you’re part of its daily operations. Furthermore, some of the staff are so used to the structure and business functions that they are unable to pinpoint the weak spots. A successful consultant can walk into a company, analyze the facts and figures, identify the areas that need improved, and find a viable solution for implementation.
Drive and Motivation
It’s easy to spot successful management consultants. They talk a little differently, and move with confidence, without being too arrogant. Their work is always thorough and they know how to make the most out of seemingly hopeless situations. Lastly, they are always working towards a goal and are never satisfied with mediocre results.
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