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January 07, 2019
The Constants in Consulting
By: Philip Leutgoeb

Every role within Consulting offers different opportunities, responsibilities and challenges to everyone involved, depending on project, industry, client, team members, and personal skill set. Nevertheless, in this post, I want to highlight what I believe remain consistent and hence the most crucial success factors in the consulting industry.

What does a consultant need to succeed?

In addition to aiming at delivering the highest value for clients, communication, collaboration, and adaptability are key in consulting. They will define the relationship within your team and the client, as well as ‘how’ the project will be delivered and what the journey towards the delivery looks and feels like

How do these skills link together?

Communication, adaptability and collaboration go hand in hand, and can prove decisive in any project. In the following paragraphs, I will try to give you a better insight into real-life examples.

Effective communication. Your communication style matters when delivering messages, presenting solutions, or highlighting potential risk-factors to clients. TED Talks are a very good source of inspiring and convincing communicators. One of my favourite talks, in this case also touching upon effective communication, is Simon Sinek’s talk on ‘How great leaders inspire action’.

Figure 1: Simon Sinek's Golden Circle, taken from smartinsights.com

He has established a concept behind effective communication, the golden circle. In theory, we should cover the areas of why-how-what in our messaging (see figure 1). Usually though, we focus on expressing only what and how something is done – the tasks and the respective approach. Hence, Simon Sinek’s main point is that the effectiveness and perception of one’s messaging can dramatically be improved (for people and businesses alike) if we’d shaped our ways of communication the other way around. Start with the ‘why’ you will do something and finish your statements with an explanation of ‘how’ you will do ‘what’.

Collaboration. As Michael Jordan, one of the greatest and most successful basketballers of all time, puts it:

  • "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships".

Simple, but effective, it highlights the importance of teamwork and collaborating with others to reach a common goal and bring the best out of each other.

A good way to start collaborating effectively within a team is understanding each other’s traits, strengths and weaknesses. 360° Feedback is an easy yet brilliant way of getting to know yourself and how you are perceived by others. In addition, it enables you to reflect on team members’ performance and behaviours by providing honest and constructive feedback, allowing you to understand them and their actions better, and if required adopt ways of collaborating with each other.

We have recently implemented this technique in my team giving us the opportunity to grow in identified areas of improvement, while at the same time continuing to utilise one’s strengths.

Establishing a true collaborative environment also relies on trust. As project work can be quite stressful, especially when people from different backgrounds, mindsets, companies, or countries and cultures work together, trust can reduce the occurrence of tensions and misunderstandings. Creating a working environment based on trust and understanding will enable the team to better achieve the outcomes desired.

Adaptability. Adaptability is crucial to any business. Especially though, in an industry that drives fast-paced change, adopting flexible ways of working helps to identify the right problems, design appropriate solutions iteratively, and allows quicker scaling of those solutions. During my time at Accenture I have used and upskilled clients in Design Thinking, completed the Professional Scrum Master certification and experimented with the Lean Startup methodology – all of which are key to empowering adaptable organisations.

To put it simply…

In summary, being able to communicate effectively, work in teams, and stay on top of things in a constantly changing environment will save you and your team time and effort while guaranteeing you remain focussed on creating value for the client.

Read Philip’s other blog post Me, my life, and Accenture

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