Consultants? How come so many ‘apparently’ incompetent ones make it to the top?

If I had earned a pound for each time I heard a colleague make derogatory comments about the skills of someone else, including consultants, I would be very rich. I feel like I am on a crusade at the moment to try and encourage others to think and understand more. It comes from coaching for a living where my main skills set is listening more and talking less. Listening leads to greater understanding and I think, greater tolerance. My tolerance annoys a lot of people but it works for me. (Ok I do have my moments but not when I am wearing my professional hat).

Really common is the expression “how is he a director or executive? He doesn’t know his left from his right and knows nothing about our business …”

It is much easier to focus on what they don’t have and not notice what they do have. It is very likely that they have mastered one of the high level corporate ‘arts’ and any aspirational manager or consultants would do well to give them some thought:

  • The art of relationship building,
  • The art of building loyalty and trust,
  • The art of leading,
  • The art of presenting and communicating clearly, among others.

Relationship Building.

Many people are unable to build relationships – it’s just not their thing. They prefer tasks to people: a sweeping statement this may be but accountants, IT consultants, surveyors and engineers are amongst those who are often more focussed on the task than the person. Customer facing people are people friendly but may focus less on detail. Whatever type you are, developing the skill to build relationships is an essential one if you plan on reaching the top.

My 3 top tips if you are just not a natural with people;

  1. Prepare a list of open questions that you can use during social discussions will help. Open questions mean that others have to give fuller answers; when they talk it takes the attention away from you having to talk.
  2. Listen. If you listen properly then you will gain information to develop a conversation. If you show an interest in others, they are more likely to warm to you. People like it when others show an interest in you.
  3. Be up to date on current affairs. There is usually always something that you can use as an opener to gain opinions and develop discussions.


Penny Whitelock FinstLM


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