(Note: I just found this on my hard drive; it’s from 1997. I reckon it’s still relevant and of value, so please enjoy.)
During a recent meeting with a client to review details of a corporate retreat for three hundred people, he made some appreciative comments about my style of coaching and consulting. He mentioned several specifics and said that he thought these ought to be essential elements in any successful consulting business. He should know; my client is a superior consultant who over the years has demonstrated rare vision, courage, integrity, and skill.
My client asked me to think about developing a seminar that I might offer to his company of consultants to support their emerging excellence. I began to reflect on how I do my consulting work. It was difficult at first because I just do what I do; I never stopped to analyze how I do it.
The following twenty-five principles represent my inquiry into what I feel are important aspects of consulting. They are not in any particular order; number one is not more significant than number seventeen. These principles are certainly not gospel. They are simply reflections on the manner in which I do my work. You may find them to be useful catalysts in the process of becoming more aware of your own work style, values, and commitments.
You will see that I am particularly passionate about certain principles; it is also true that my viewpoint is constantly changing and evolving as I mature in understanding, skill, and experience. In fact, this very tendency may be the most important attribute of a consultant: that he or she is constantly growing and learning and evolving. Six months from now, I would most certainly have a different perspective on the essentials of consulting than I do today.
It is important to know for yourself what being a coach and consultant means and to articulate your own guiding principles. At the end of each principle, I present you with questions so that you may investigate and discover the truth of your own work. My wish is that you become a truly unique, profound, and inspiring artist.
PRINCIPLE ONE: Defining the Work
A consultant is someone whose primary interest is the well-being of others. In this way, I think that consulting is really putting your particular expertise in service to the client’s desire for enhanced well-being. The client may retain your services for any number of reasons; still, underneath all the reasons, the client wants you to help him attain a better life.
When there is confusion, you are the clarity. When there is a problem, you are the solution. When there is an impasse, you are the way. When there is frustration, you are the peace. When there is fear, you are the courage. As a consultant, you always represent enhanced well-being. A consultant is an advocate for exploring frontiers of knowledge and performance that lead to enhanced well-being.
Defining the work also means that you know what your expertise is and that you project that expertise with credibility and confidence. Expertise is a unique blend of life experience, values, creativity, vision, technical skill, passion, and dedication. Your expertise should represent a value that no one else can provide. That’s why I make a distinction between technical proficiency and getting the job done, and contributing to the well-being of a client in such a comprehensive way that the full impact of your work can’t even be quantified.
A magic wand is the perfect metaphor for expertise: magic that only you can produce.
How do you define your work as a consultant? How do you communicate this to prospective clients so that they know what they are getting? What is your expertise?