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What is Your Role as a Consultant


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I had an email a few weeks ago from a consultant, who asked,

"How do I get more consultative with my own clients and stop rushing to be a pair of hands for others' clients."

To me this triggered another broader question

"What role as a consultant do I/do I want to play?"

I think there are 4 main roles

1. Generalist Adviser
2. Specialist Adviser
3. Extra Pair of hands
4. Project Manager

Generalist Adviser

In this role, a consultant acts in a strategic capacity to look at business in general. They may cover strategy, operations or people across a whole business or within a specific function. They act as an adviser by offering knowledge, solutions to problems and supporting change. In this role "doing" is not part of what they do.

Specialist Adviser

In this role, a consultant acts as an adviser in a specific area of business e.g. sales, HR or production. Their role is to analyse, offer solutions and work with people to make the change happen but again "doing" is left to the people within the business.

Extra Pair of Hands

In this role, a consultant is used as an additional resource because of the specialist skills, knowledge or experience they have. They are used to support changes already determined by the business they are working with. Their key activity is "doing".

Project Manager

In this role, a consultant acts as the overseer of implementation activity. They may support change and may take a role in "doing" work as well. Their key activity is the translation of what needs to be done into an action plan and then making it happen to deliver the expected results.

It may be that you can comfortably play each role with every client. It may be that you prefer to play one role with one client and another role with a different client. It may be that you prefer to act as one type all the time.

There is no right or wrong answer but I do think it is important that you identify what role you want to play and then agree the boundaries and scope of that role with each client, so that both sets of expectations are clear and can be measured appropriately.

Of course there are many other views on the roles of consultants and I came across this tool for assessing what type of consultancy role you "prefer" which I found quite interesting and thought you may too.

It is the Consultancy Roles & Types Questionnaire by Peter Farey

He lists 8 consultant roles

* Catalyst/Developer
* Involver/Facilitator
* Listener/Counsellor
* Supporter/Helper
* Researcher/Analyst
* Instructor/Enforcer
* Lecturer/Director
* Thinker/Challenger

Take the questionnaire HERE and see whether your results are what you expect.

The value in doing this is that you can then match your preferred way of working with the specific needs of your clients and perhaps it will even help you say no to work you don't want to do so that you only take and spend time on work that you do want to do.

You might also use this type of questionnaire to recruit partners for your own consultancy. You could look for different types of consultant to fill different or complementary roles to your own.

For your information when I did this questionnaire the roles that were indicated as my preferences were Catalyst/Developer and Involver/Facilitator which I think is pretty accurate, although I don't really consider myself a "pure" consultant but more of a consultant coach or "coachultant"!

Let me know what type you are.

About the Author

Beverley Hamilton works with independent business consultants to help them grow a profitable consultancy and still have time for their life. You can get my Free Ecourse Discover the 5 Most Common Incorrect Assumptions Independent Business Consultants Make and a complimentary subscription to Quickstart, the newsletter specifically for consultants. Go to One Step Further for more instantly accessible resources. Your future Your choice!

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-02-07 13:05:08 in Personal Articles

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