Often when a consultant is hired the client really wants to try some new approach to solve a problem. The challenge for the consultant is to shape an engagement to improve the situation. However the real skill is not simply do the task requested but leave the organization in a better state than when you started the assignment.
One of the challenges in consulting is to focus on the client’s success and not your own. That seems trivial but say for example you are helping a client develop an approach to an Data Warehousing initiative. If, at the end of the consulting assignment, the clients has a first quality plan but the plan is always referrred to by the consultant’s name. That is nice for the consultant’s ego but likely not a successful planning process for the client because the ownership is in the wrong place. If the client develops their own plan with consultants help, the plan will likely be successful for the client. Often the consultant will see flaws in the plan and how he deals with the flaws is a real test for the consultant. We all have to deal with our ego’s and a desire for approval. Strange as it may seem, the sign of a problem on a consulting project is if the client is saying how amazing the consultant is. Likely we now have a great report but no change. I considered that an unsuccessful consulting project.
I think a consultant who does training often finishes a workshop on a real high having recieved great feedback from the participants about how wonderful he is. The attendees think the trainer is marvellous. The issue is that all the praise is really an expression of the student distancing herself from the trainer. "He is so great and I am just so inadequate." Real change is occurring when the student says something like "It really wasn’t that new but he put it in a different way. Made me think." The trainer has tuned into the readiness of the student. Hard on the trainer’s ego, but the client has a chance of being successful in benefitting from the training.
We are all striving for recognition and if we sacrifice good consulting for an ego boost, are we treating "the client as king"?