The Chronicle of Philanthropy published a nice list of consulting traits that I want to pass along. The traits they list are below. My comments are in parentheses.
- Have self-confidence and be as adept at delivering bad news as good. (This is hard. I hate delivering bad news, but it often goes with the job.)
- Have a good understanding of the business and of themselves. (Understand your client’s business, and also your own strengths and weaknesses.)
- Have transferable skills. (Don’t use a cookie-cutter approach.)
- Have the ability to simplify and explain a problem. (Don’t try dazzle them with acronyms and big words. It will backfire. Communicate clearly.)
- Have more than one solution to a problem. (Be flexible.)
- Be a good listener. (It’s hard to top this one.)
- Be a team player. (They mean that the client’s needs come first, but you often need to collaborate with the client as well as other consultants to reach a solution.)
- Be able to market. (Otherwise you’ll go broke.)
- Gain client trust. (Absolutely. Staff won’t talk to you honestly otherwise.)
- Remember who’s the star. (It’s not you.)
It’s a good list. I’d add that you need to be able to manage your own business. If you can’t write proposals and reports, do your work on time, manage billing, etc. you won’t get far on your own. On the other hand, if you work for a firm you may not have to do those things. I’d also add that part of marketing yourself is writing, public speaking, and networking.
Did they miss anything else?