One of the modules I include in every consulting skills fundamentals is the role of the consultant. I ask the participants what they think the role of the consultant is from various points of view; the consultant, the client, the consultant’s employer. The discussion is always lively and lots of different ideas.
However some of the ideas that come out loud and clear is that the role depends on the circumstances and the situation. The view of the client is clearly a factor and often there are many people in the client organization who have different views. However there are some common elements. One that always impressed me was that the consultant is an outsider and not part of the organization he is serving. That fact has both advantages and disadvantages.
As an outsider the consultant brings a fresh point of view. Sometimes this is called an objective point of view, implying truth, but I disagree. We all come with our prejudices and history which gives us biases. However a new set of eyes will see something people close to the problem have missed.
As an outsider, the consultant will not have the trust of the client. The consultant is a unknown factor and may not be told all the facts or circumstances. Trust must be built.
Another factor in being an outsider is that everybody knows you will not be around forever. Eventually you will leave and the organization must deal with the results. That fact brings with it a special responsibility. The organization must not develop a dependency on you that leaves them high and dry when you move on.
I will deal with other aspects of the role in future blogs.