The consulting world is full of top performers from the best schools with interesting work experience, but is that enough to meet the needs of the future? There are a number of skills the best consultants possess that are more important than a stellar resume.
According to a Deloitte poll of more than 2,000 C-suite executives across 19 countries, 57% of executives believe the education system is not preparing workers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the changes it will bring to the workplace. And while 43% of respondents say they intend to train their current employees to meet future demands, consultants committed to succeeding in a competitive industry may need to take matters into their own hands.
Whether you’re an experienced consultant, or are just considering it as a career path, here are seven skills to brush up on that will help you prepare for 2019 and beyond.
A consultant’s role involves curiosity about clients, industry and the world at large. You need to be able to ask smart, logically structured questions and use answers to spur smart solutions. Curiosity is the fuel that propels you to keep going on tough problems. It holds your attention through countless projects and clients. It drives you to excel.
The most sought-after consultants are ones who are intrigued by new ideas. They can flexibly apply these new ideas to their clients’ toughest challenges. To hone this skill, read books and articles from industry leaders that are relevant to your work. You’ll come across many opportunities to take that knowledge and apply it to clients.
If you’re new to consulting, you may be surprised at how agile you need to be in your job. A consultant’s role often varies from contract to contract or even shifts within the same engagement. You need to mobilize quickly in response to competition. You need to move quickly from idea to implementation. Being agile ensures you can accept changes and respond to evolving requirements.
Listen to people, trends, and markets. If you’re not listening closely to what is going on in your field or industry, you won’t be able to change course to meet rapidly changing business needs.
Tackling their clients’ challenges is the main objective of any successful consultant. To do this, you must understand them and present recommendations to overcome them. Being creative involves using an open-ended and exploratory thought process. An open-minded approach leads to solutions others might overlook. It enables a more holistic vision for smarter solutions.
You don’t have to be artistic to be creative. Creativity is a learned skill. Often, it’s just a matter of giving yourself time just to think. Why do you think some of the best ideas come when you’re in the shower or going for a walk without the distractions of emails and technology? Build time into every day, week or month to just relax let your creative mind wander.
Solving problems for clients is the cornerstone of the value consultants bring to their clients. Often, consultants are brought on when the major stakeholders don’t even have a clear understanding of what they want from the project in question. It’s up to the consultant to solve a problem which perhaps hasn’t yet been defined.
Having initiative and an ability to take a logical approach to problem-solving will allow you to help clients run their businesses more efficiently and effectively. There are a number of problem-solving frameworks. At their most basic, they involve defining and identify the problem, gaining an understanding of the issues, generating options, analyzing risks, and choosing a solution. Find a framework that appeals you and start applying it to problems large and small.
It takes a lot to succeed in the consulting world. Brush up on these skills in 2019 so you have the tools you need to go from being a good consultant to a great one.