As a seasoned consulting professional, I have had the privilege of learning from some truly exceptional consultants over the years. These are consultants that possess certain qualities that set them apart from the rest. When I think about what they had and what I’m cultivating every day, it boils down to this—exceptional consultants excel in these five areas.
First things first, they build trust with their clients. Exceptional consultants understand that trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, and they work hard to earn it. They are honest, transparent, and keep their promises. They don’t oversell. They make their clients feel heard. They always deliver on time. They take a client’s success personally. This leads to strong, trustworthy relationships with their clients.
Second, exceptional consultants engage with their clients in a substantive and iterative (NOT transactional) way. They take the time to understand their clients’ businesses, challenges, goals, and concerns. They ask questions that open up new thought patterns. They know how to politely push back against bad assumptions and decisions. They are NOT order takers. They’ve learned how to disagree productively. They focus on customized solutions, rather than taking the faster, easier, one-size-fits-all approach.
Third, they seek to acquire knowledge behind-the-scenes so they can impart knowledge when they’re in front of clients. To be seen as experts, exceptional consultants must be masters of their craft and provide evidence of their deep understanding of the subject matter. They use their expertise to guide clients. They share their knowledge in a way that is easy to understand. And they use their curiosity to constantly and quickly fill any gaps discovered in their expertise.
Fourth, exceptional consultants are creative problem solvers. They are unafraid to think outside the box. They propose innovative solutions to complex problems. They know that not all problems have a straightforward solution, and I’ve watched in awe as they’ve taken unconventional approaches to find the best solution for clients, stakeholders, employees, and customers.
Lastly, they have super high EQ. Their emotional intelligence helps them understand and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of their clients. Stress doesn’t affect them in the same way as it does normal consultants. They know that emotions can play a huge role in decision-making, and I’ve noticed on multiple occasions how exceptional consultants use their tone, cadence, words, and reactions to steady their teams and clients.
There you have it… a crash course in what an exceptional consultant LOOKS LIKE. Next week, I’ll tell you how to BECOME an exceptional consultant – all for the low, low price of $free.99!
Before you go, my questions to you are:
- What qualities do you think are essential for an exceptional consultant?
- How do you ensure that you are continuously improving yourself as a consultant?