Making a search of the term Consultant in 3 of the available dictionaries we have around (Wikipedia, Real Academia Española Dictionary and the British Encyclopaedia) one realises that in these 3 sources 2 words are repeated within the Consultant definition: ADVICE and EXPERIENCE.
Since I was little, when I find myself with such a clear and forceful thing, I wonder what is behind it. Well, after reading these 2 words in the British Encyclopaedia, the following thought came to my mind: “Advice is something that is given and Experience is something one has”.
Throughout our life as clients, we have met Consultants, not only in our professional scope, but also in our personal life: accounting managers, IT advisers, publicity creators, law experts, design specialists, doctors, professors, etc. At some point, we had the need to be clients of one of these professionals from which we valued their ability to give us advice for the experience we understood they possessed.
An expert is such if they possess knowledge about a certain aspect or subject, so that their assessments of this aspect or topic make them more reliable than a person who only has a common level of knowledge. However, the feature of “reliability” applies to these measurement systems, which make no mistakes or offer consistent records within successive measurements… but, apart from not making mistakes, aren’t consultants supposed to give advice?
It follows that there are 2 possible reflections that any consultant can make regarding their client:
1st Reflection: What level of trust have I gained from my client? To what extend this level of trust, undoubtedly, helps me provide such expert advice? Should I focus on developing it? Up to what point does the trust level interfere my being able to tell my client things they will not like and damage our relation?
To what extent can a consultant transfer his point of view to the client with total transparency and at once? The Consultant must come with the "given" ability to dose their contribution as they convince the client, so that it is the client by themself who implements the behaviour change.
Prudence eases the consultant-client relation, allowing confidence to be built on both sides.
2nd Reflection: What status do I have for the client? Am I a qualified figure that helps my client create, produce or build things? Am I an instrument that gives the client the same (or very similar) answers every time they turn to me?
We all want to be the first one, the qualified and respected one, but it would not hurt too much to "give it a thought”, just in case that for some reason we become the second one more than the first one, becoming a mere instrument. In any case, what does the consultant who has achieved the status of qualified professional by their client have?
Education. Understood as the concern to go deeper into knowledge, through wise men or researchers, or through a self-taught approach, which currently works well as information is becoming more accessible. Therefore, this implies constantly considering oneself as a trainee.
Training. Not only understood as a constant practice to keep oneself active, but also as a practice that improves how active one can be through self-commitment. As a result, this means defying oneself and setting higher goals than the ones the client posed.
Dedication. Understood as willing to devote one's own resources to the performance of the activity. For example, you transmit this profession through your pores and think, at least once every 5 minutes, about the projects and needs of the clients.
It is true that “Advice is something that is given and Experience is something one has”, but the best consultants we know gave us more than an expert advice, “they gave us all they had”.
Have you ever given everything you have for something or for someone? You can feel like a consultant, if you know how, you can feel it and you want to.
David Beti Costa.
Managing Partner in focus inside.