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Ask don’t Tell: Being a consultant does not mean that you have to know everything!

Here’s a scenario for you as a consultant :

Your boss (the lead consultant) “Jack. You are not on track with the plan. That’s going to cost us all, you need to up your efforts….”

How do you feel? Positive, motivated, can’t wait to do more hours? I suspect not. Few people turn up at work and do nothing (although I have worked in a consultancy where that seemed to be very acceptable!) Cost consultants work long hours, away from home and want to do a good job to secure more work.

How about this approach:

Your boss: “Jack. You are not on track with the plan so let’s have a coffee and you can run me through the blockers and see if I can help.”

How do you feel now? If you are genuinely trying and your efforts are falling short then this approach is much more welcome – a chance to talk it through, get help, come up with new ideas.

Depending on your position it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking as a consultant that you have to have all of the answers, when in fact it is far more valuable to you and your team and your client if you have all of the questions. Giving answers and telling people how to do things means that you are more likely to be disregarding their input and efforts and that you don’t really understand the issues that they are facing.


As a consultant, try getting better at having all of the questions, not all of the answers and you will be very surprised and motivated by the results that you get.


Penny Whitelock FinstLM



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