Too many consultants relegate themselves to a position of order-taker. You must position yourself as an empathic authority, so you don’t fall into that trap.
That means taking a leading role in your dealings with clients. Like this:
1. Seek empathy. Show the client that you ‘get’ them and the issues they face. Not just intellectually, but by putting yourself in their shoes. Feel what it’s like to experience their problems (frustration) and opportunities (excitement).
2. Bring clarity. Clients talk about solutions, but struggle to know what outcome they want … and why that is of value to them. Help clients to move off the solution, so they can understand and articulate their ambitions.
3. Be decisive. Focus on the actions required by the client to resolve their issues. Go beyond polite information exchange and offer straight talking guidance.
4. Facilitate decisions. Once you’ve achieved the first three things on this list … step back. Make it easy for the client to think through the decisions they need to make, and the actions to take, now they have a better understanding.
All of this must be done within an intelligent, appreciative, and principled framework … so you’re always working to help clients succeed.