René van Weenen-Executive Consultant Culbert Healthcare Solutions
Consultants are driven to make their assigned engagements a success. With almost 10 years of consulting experience across the globe and collectively with over 2 decades collaborating with and hiring consultants, I have experienced firsthand what makes a successful consultant. There is an old saying that dates back to the 14th Century that states, “Jack of all trades, but master of none”. In modern times, consultants are expected to be “Master of all trades” and if you aren’t, you will. To be an effective consultant, you must be driven, be a self-starter, be committed, be trustworthy, be respectful, be diverse, be creative, be a good communicator and an even better listener. There are many more qualities that in combination are needed to be effective. As consultants, we are the subject matter expert, the implementation leader, the strategist, the trusted advisor, the change agent and the list of responsibilities continues to no end. As consultants, we bring years of experience engaging in hundreds of projects with many lessons learned. Every new assignment brings a collection of past experiences for our engagements that are invaluable lessons from the field that benefit each new client we represent.
The knowledge and expertise we exercise aren’t the only important aspects of the job that we bring to engagements. As important and sometimes more important, is our own identity. It is important for consultants to have the personality to be effective in order to engage without creating a disruptive environment. Our duty is to bring synergy and creating a partnership to every engagement to achieve success. I have seen through the years, highly skilled and knowledgeable consultants not last more than a couple of weeks because they could not fit into the culture of the engagement or their own values did NOT include being respectful, being diverse or being a good communicator/listener to name a few.
For many years “Emotional Intelligence” has been a topic of articles and discussions for which it has not been given enough emphasis. In many cultures across the globe, contracts are not executed by knowledge or content of the deal alone. Partnerships are created through building professional relationships that are built on the foundation of integrity, respect, trust and team work to name a few. These are the same traits that are equally relevant in our global, multi-cultural and diverse corporate environment. It is by no surprise, that within the mission statement in a majority of organizations, words like community, diversity, empathy, integrity, respect, trust and more are regarded to the highest order. These are not characteristics that are a “NICE” to have, they are a “MUST” haves and are a part of the DNA in the individuals who embody the foundation of the organization.
Consultants make great sacrifices to be away from their families and activities but there are also great rewards on the other end. The reward is not why we do it, at least for me personally the reward is not the driving force. For the consultant with the right mind set, it is about making a difference and being driven to creating positive outcomes. Partnering with an engagement team to overcome obstacles, mitigate risks and deliver a project or strategy on budget and on time is the most difficult task to accomplish but is also achievable. When projects that are behind schedule or failing and are then delivered on time and under budget, that is when one knows that the engagement was delivered through a mutual and respectful partnership and not a traditional client / vendor contract.
The pathway to achieving a successful engagement is to over deliver in every task that is requested of us. This means, getting to know the project team and understanding the psychology of how each member operates and how best to engage with the team and with individuals alike. Consultants are not only subject matter experts for a project, we are the human interface that brings the project or strategy together. When we are genuine in our intention and interaction with the teams we engage with, we are then able to integrate and achieve the optimal result for the engagement. Over delivering also means being an active leader who takes initiative and doesn’t wait to be told what to do. As consultants, we promote positive thinking and always provide a “CAN DO” attitude.