Is a consultant the expert, an extra pair of hands, a source of revenue, a source of advice, ……….? In a consulting course I created often called Consulting 101 I devote a whole section to dealing with this question.
The answer to the question depends on your point of view and the circumstances. Let's talk about the consultants view. In all my workshops I think I have heard many answers.
One thing I have always felt as a consultant is an outsider. In every project and with every client, I develop a good relationship but I am not part of the client's organization. I think that is one of my values but it has it limitations. I know the project will come to an end and the organization will continue. I evaluate the success of my role by whether the organization is better when I am finished than when I started.
Often when I have worked at a client for a long time and spent very little time with my own organization, I start identifying with the client more that my own firm. However on reflection, I realize that I am in the revenue stream of my organization, and with the client I am overhead. Being overhead makes me very vulnerable and I did not like the idea. My security really exist with my ability to deliver value to the client and in turn value to my firm. However I also am of value to my firm because I am really a key part of the product,consulting services. As I gain experience, knowledge and wisdom, I become more valuable and in demand. As I become more valuable, I become more than one consultant, I become part of the firm. I become the firm.
As my role evolves, I can leverage my own capability and role to provide other support for my clients. Then my influence with the client goes beyond my own role. My value to my client and my firm expands. My role has changed to include leadership both with the client and my firm.
The role of a consultant is dynamic and continually changing and really depends more on the circumstances than the consultant.