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If a company hires you as a management consultant, it will mainly be because of your industry expertise. You likely offer knowledge and experience that their company lacks. But succeeding as a consultant takes more than just industry-specific knowledge. As you will be dealing with people, providing insights and coming up with solutions, you will also need the right ‘soft skills’ for the job.
So, what are the consulting soft skills that every management consultant should have? There are many. And the more of them you have, the more effective you will be as a consultant. But there are perhaps four that are more important than the rest.
1. Strong interpersonal skills
As you will be working closely with a client’s management and staff - and helping them solve some important issues - it is essential that you can effectively communicate and interact with others.
This doesn’t mean you have to be highly extroverted.
The most important thing is that you are genuinely interested in other people and feel comfortable interacting in a professional setting.
2. The ability to adapt
The needs and expectations of clients vary greatly. For example, some clients will prefer that you deliver free-flowing workshops; others might like having in-depth presentations. You will need to be flexible and adaptable in how you approach every client.
And not only will there be different needs between clients, but very often the needs within a single client engagement will change. This could be, for instance, because of some unexpected major event at the company or because management changed their priorities around the engagement goals. Whatever the case, change is more the rule than the exception. Successful consultants will accept this from the start and prepare themselves for when it comes.
3. Great problem-solving skills
If a client hires you as a consultant, there is a situation they want to improve or a problem they want to solve.
Getting to the root of the problem to come up with a solution is a valuable skill to have.
Problem-solving for management consultants often happens on two basic levels. You will need to:
Combining these two elements helps you come up with a solution that is innovative, implementable and acceptable to the client.
4. Excellent listening
Whether they know it or not, most successful consultants are good at knowing how to listen. This means they let others speak without interrupting, focus closely on what they are saying and respond thoughtfully. They also pay attention, interpret and respond appropriately to important cues like tone and body language.
Putting aside your assumptions and simply listening to what the client has to say will allow you to objectively assess the situation and provide the most valuable solution.
How do you think you rate in each of the above skills? Hopefully, they are skills that you already possess. If so, they will go a long way in providing lasting value to your clients. But if you need work in some or all of them, then no worries! You can always work to develop them in yourself.
And one great way to do so is through our online courses. Think about enrolling in one or more of these courses to develop yourself as a consultant.