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Consultants puffed up like peacock? Pride comes before a fall…

‘Transitioning from hubris to humility’ is a statement that I read and didn’t really understand. I do now and I believe that it is something that many consultants would do well to ponder!

“Hubris is extreme pride and arrogance shown by a character that ultimately brings about his own downfall. Hubris is a typical flaw in the personality of a character who enjoys a powerful position; as a result of which, he overestimates his capabilities to such an extent that he loses contact with reality”. (Literary Devices). Taken from the Greek to mean tragedies, ‘Hubris’ is attributed to the following modern day people: Lance Armstrong, Tony Blair, Bank CEO’s responsible for the 2008/9 crash, Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone, Mike Myers.

We have all met those who have a great sense of self-worth, a certain superiority and an expectation of how others will treat them and what they are entitled to. During our working lives many of us aspire to be in these lofty positions; many of us sacrifice family and free time to get to the top and it comes as one of the expectations in many corporate organisations.

I have worked at KPMG and Proudfoot consultancy firms where this arrogance is almost a necessity to ‘fit’ into the expected model. Having spent more time in organisations using the support of consultants to help accelerate changes than as a consultant, I can honestly say that there is no need for the arrogance or superiority complex. People want to feel equal; they can respect your talent, and may or may not be aware of the risks that you have taken to get where you are and to be quite frank they don’t need to know how you got where you have. They just need to know that you can do the job that you have been brought in for and that you relate to them in a way that lets them have pride and self-respect.

Your challenge is to ‘fit’ into their world in way that enables you to make a difference, prove your worth and hopefully get booked for more work. Learning how to talk to people at their level without patronising is a gift that will earn you more respect than any ‘hubris’ ever will. Humility will make you happier and make your client happier.

Give it a try – you might just find your life becomes less stressful and people like you more.

Penny Whitelock


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