What does it mean to be a consultant?
Consulting and consultant careers have continued to be attractive in recent years. At the same time, the consulting business has changed and can no longer be compared with the management consultancies of the 2000s.
I am often asked: How does one actually become a consultant? What makes a good consultant?
Every consultant will answer this differently for themselves. The answer is, of course, multifaceted. I could now list a number of learnings, certifications, and past achievements. All right and important, but not enough for me.
What legitimizes me as a consultant?
- Pass on knowledge, what she once learned, according to the motto “I know better”
- Copy past best practices and “scale” to other companies
- Swim with the wave and follow general trends
- “Moral Apostle and preach what is right now
- Telling others what to do and what not to do
- Speak to be heard
My homework behind the scenes is active thinking. This can be project-related, but it is often thinking in general.
It means to me:
- Observe: what is actually happening? (And not ‘What are we talking about?’)
- Passive listening: What is being discussed? What and how do others experience the world and what conclusions do they draw?
- Abstract: How do all the observations fit together at the meta level?
- Detailing: How does the “Big Picture” affect the smallest everyday decisions?
- Doubting: Do goals and approach fit together? Am I doing “the right thing”?
- Merging thoughts with good hope: How can the different symptoms contribute to a positive future?
- Sensing and swimming in front of the wave: How does the zeitgeist tick? What’s next? What are the effects of which trends? What should happen?
- Thought experiments and discarding ideas.
- Set an example to comprehend: What really works and what is just wishful thinking?
- Pondering: How could things belong together?
- Finding, visualizing and analyzing analogies in order to explain facts clearly.
- Establish and verify (sometimes falsify) hypotheses in order to meaningfully combine knowledge, intuition and facts.
This allows me to create value
Only in this way can I:
- Ask the right questions and get straight to the heart of the matter
- Build up an in-depth understanding of the customer without delay
- Apply the right levers quickly and in a targeted manner
- Work out a tailor-made concept with each customer that really brings about the change that helps.
- Achieve coherence that convinces and motivates
- Ensure that a project has a powerful impact
- Get people eager to participate, engage and drive change
- Bringing solutions to sustainable success
and most importantly, making my contribution to a better future.
I love working with other people. It satisfies me to be of service and make great projects possible. I thrive in contact with others.
So I understand that many see consulting as a way to “do something with people.”
Part of the truth, however, is that consulting also means stepping back, being alone, and thinking your own (rather than rehashed) thoughts.
For me, an important counseling skill is to develop imagination and to engage in philosophical aspects. The art is not to get stuck in that but to question your own thoughts again and reconcile them with reality, numbers, data and facts. To inspire with new thoughts and then to shape them together into a new narrative, from which new worlds emerge with tools of the trade.
Active learning from and with the outside world is important to me. However, I want to process the “learned” and “refine” it with my own views.
A big part of the work of a consultant is not visible. The collaboration with the client is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Much of my time is spent not in busyness, but in “active thinking”. My “quiet time” is the investment in the time savings and insight the client experiences in the collaboration.
The time I spend with the people in the client company is 100% quality time that creates real impact and adds value.
This gives me the feeling of doing a fulfilling job I love.
Personal portrait Irina Hagen
Would I have thought back then that I could successfully manage a consulting company for more than 10 years on the market through several crises? No, probably not.
Back then, I was rather naive about the whole thing and kissed the one or other wall, or rather the wall kissed me – without asking 😉 All the more, I am happy today to be described as a “courageous ahead thinker, inspiring creator and pragmatic demonstrator”.
Hard work and the joy of reflection, questioning, and learning got me there.