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5 Qualities a Consultant Should NOT have

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May 18, 2021
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5 minutes
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

You’ll find a lot of articles on the internet about the strengths of a consultant, but today, let’s discuss some weaknesses that could affect your consulting career in a bad way.

Like every other professional out there, consultants may unknowingly do certain things that may affect their progress.

In this article, we will discuss the 5 consultant qualities that you should break if you want to reach new heights in your consulting career.

1. Biting More Than You Can Chew

Management consulting is a very prestigious and rewarding profession, but it’s also a profession that’s very result-oriented. Sure, a degree from a top university and internships at big firms help, but you will ultimately be judged by the results you produce. To create a track record of success, you should take on tasks that you know you can accomplish successfully. Overpromising in the beginning and then not delivering the project on time may not be a good idea in management consulting.

For example, if you promise your client that you can help them increase their revenue by 20% in 3 months, you should have the skills and resources to achieve that. However, you should not let the fear of not achieving clients’ goals stop you from taking on challenges. But at the same time, you should avoid making big promises to clients if you don’t have the right game plan. This is a bad consultant quality.

“Your word is your honor. If you say you're going to do something, then you need to do it.” Joyce Meyer

2. Not Adapting to the Changing Market

One of the biggest strengths of a consultant is embracing change and adapting their services to meet the needs of the ever-changing consulting industry. For instance, freelance consulting is on the rise these days. A lot of consultants are leaving corporate life behind and working as independent consultants. Even companies are willing to hire freelance consultants through online consulting platforms. Yet a lot of consultants are sticking to the usual ways and competing to get into big firms or working as an employed consultant for decades not knowing that they may be able to go way far by becoming a freelance consultant.

The consulting industry is changing. The way consultants work and the way businesses hire consultants is changing. Whether it’s management consulting or other industries, change is inevitable. It has happened before, and it will happen again. Smart consultants would examine these changes and adapt accordingly, and the ones who don’t may wonder why their consulting career is not progressing - make sure you’re the former one.

3. Losing Composure Under Pressure

Calmness under pressure is one of the most important consulting traits. Throughout your management consulting career, there will be several situations when composure and positive thinking will save the day. Imagine this: You have worked hard analyzing data for months and have finalized your recommendations. But then, when you present it to the board, the CEO points out that they have already tried one of your suggested solutions in the past and it didn’t work very well.

Oh-uh! What would you do then? Would you panic and try to convince them that it will work? Or would you get back to the drawing board and offer new solutions within the agreed-upon deadline? In management consulting, things may not always go linear all the time. You should expect the unexpected and be completely functional under pressure. If you don’t, then you may experience burnouts and a loss of job satisfaction. So, make sure to remain calm and respond to tough situations intelligently, instead of reacting instantly and losing temper. Remaining calm is one of the important consultant quality.

4. A Lack of Empathy

Management consulting is a very logical profession. Even the language that most consultants use is very straightforward and lacks emotions. Nothing wrong with it, that’s just the nature of the profession. However, not knowing when to use emotive language may cause issues at some point. You see, the modern workforce is very diverse. One could be working with a CEO, who is a grandparent, in the morning, and video conferencing with a twenty-year-old intern with tattoos on their wrist in the afternoon. One may even have to work with individuals who are in different time zones.

The bottom line is: It is likely that, as a consultant, you will work alongside other consultants or professionals from different backgrounds. You may have to work with people who are completely different from you and be able to see things from their perspective. Certainly, a lack of empathy is not good in any profession. But this applies especially to consultants because when things get too logical, as they do when one works as a consultant, one may forget that they are working with humans after all. Empathy is key, not only in personal relationships but also in business situations.

5. Not Being Open to Feedback

While offering intelligent, actionable advice is one of the greatest strengths of a consultant, not being able to listen to a client’s advice may be one of the biggest weaknesses. Fact is, as a management consultant, your work will be deeply scrutinized by your clients. You will be given feedback. You may be told that there are flaws in your analysis and recommendations, and you may have to get back to work again.

If you’re the type of person who takes feedback personally, you could have problems going far as a consultant. The thing is, when clients invest in consulting services, they have every right to ask questions, express their opinions, and offer feedback. A consultant who is confident about their competence would not lose faith in their abilities when clients offer them feedback. And these are the type of professionals who go far in their career.

In conclusion, overpromising, not embracing change, losing calmness under pressure, and lacking empathy are some qualities that may stop you from reaching new heights in your consulting career. You should also avoid being defensive when you’re given feedback and respond rationally. You don’t have to accept every piece of feedback, but you should value your client’s opinion about your work and be open to listening to it.