I know a lot of people who want to be consultants. Most aren’t ready. Here’s why… Unless you’ve been responsible for leading a successful major change intervention in a company, you probably don’t understand all complications involved in doing so.
One of the first things I do when leading a change intervention is to create and lead a Planning & Implementation Team (PIT). The PIT is responsible for overseeing the project and all its myriad details.It is typically comprised of senior representatives from the various company departments (e.g. HR, Finance, Operations, Communications, Sales, etc.). The PIT structure includes sub-committees whose members do the actual work. As the consultant responsible for the project, it’s up to you to oversee and facilitate the PIT’s and its sub-committees’ meetings.
To be respected as a consultant, you have to have the presence, knowledge, and political savvy to get people with different agendas and motivations to work together effectively. That takes credibility gained from successful experience and a bit of moxie. If you don’t have the confidence and wherewithal needed to confront skeptics and opposition, it’s really difficult to be respected as a consultant.
Finally, really good consultants are influencers. Their work is done mostly through the willing efforts of others. People believe in what the consultant says. They trust that the consultant will bring about the positive changes they are seeking. A good consultant has a positive track record.
You will know you are ready to be a consultant when your history of leading successful change interventions speaks for itself.