Over the last several years buzz words like authenticity, compassion, courage, empathy, and kindness have all made their way into thought leadership blogs and articles. The premise is that leaders who demonstrate these characteristics are more likely to be successful and have better team and organizational outcomes. At the foundation of these ideas is the fact that none of us want to work for or with people who do not demonstrate these and other basic characteristics for effective human interaction. There is something that draws us to others who engage with us in the same way that we would want to ideally engage with others. This is one of the underlying components of Flawless Consulting. As an internal or external consultant, we have to engage with our clients in an authentic, courageous, wholehearted way. This, in turn, creates the environment for our clients to engage with us in that same way.
The heart of consulting, as Peter Block has so succinctly put it, is “influencing without direct authority.” That holds for those of us who work as external consultants as well as anyone in a staff role working internally. Therefore, it seems worth thinking about the source and process of influence.
We are good at more than implementing solutions that require our specific technical or business expertise. We also know a lot about helping design optimal solutions, based upon thoughtful analysis of situation-specific problem sets and desired outcomes. We’ve seen plenty of well implemented solutions that work in one place, but not in another. With this experienced insight, we can help folks figure out the best solutions that fit their particular situations. In short, we offer consulting expertise in addition to implementation expertise, and we focus on helping our clients/stakeholders get the results they want—not just getting a solution “done” according to the specifications.
When explaining Flawless Consulting to a friend outside of my regular consulting world, I like to highlight building authenticity and awareness in relationships. I want to highlight how work projects can be approached differently, using the Flawless consulting structured framework, that allows people to enter into projects more consciously. I appreciate these elements because they lead to a more effective project with the opportunity for greater impact, by building the relationship along with technical expertise.
The promise of consulting is a commitment to care and to serve. We promise to act in the interest of another, the client. This series of blog posts explored some of the complexities consultants face that interfere with our capacity to serve, even in the face of our best intentions. In this post, we begin to wind up with some thoughts on what to do.
Many years ago, I was introduced to what is now one of my favorite books, Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute. I was intrigued by the title and mostly curious about the term self-deception. What is it—and do I have it?
In simplest terms, self-deception means that we do not see ourselves and the people around us as they really are. The authors of the book explain: “It blinds us to the true cause of problems, and once blind, all the ‘solutions’ we can think of will actually make matters worse.” As a Flawless consultant, it’s a truth I’ve seen played out all too often.