Of all the careers one can have in business, the business consultant is one of the most hotly pursued tracks by college students and professionals looking for a change in scenery.
The opportunity to travel around the country and the world, the ability to make liberal use of the knowledge they learned in school, and the high salaries that are paid to these fixers are among the top reasons why there is a high level of competition for this specific position.
If you want to be an effective management consultant like Mark Stiffler, what character traits should you possess?
In this article, we will go over four attributes that separate the best business consultants from those that struggle to get their career off the ground.
1) They are diligent researchers
Management consultants are hired to improve processes in a variety of industries. As a result, they need to be able to research different sectors quickly and effectively, as no two genres are the same.
By doing this, they are able to ask specific questions that will help their client improve their results beyond generic aspects that are common to all businesses.
Too often, management consultants are more concerned with selling a product than actually getting to the bottom of what’s wrong with their client’s company.
By approaching the job with the mentality of an analyst as opposed to that of a salesperson, they can achieve long lasting results for their clients instead of one-time boost to their bottom line.
2) They behave professionally
When an effective management consultant is on-site, they are polite and cordial to those that they interact with, but they do not waste time engaging in unprofessional behavior.
They resist the temptation to commiserate with unhappy employees, they keep their line of questioning focused on operational matters, and they avoid going anywhere they are not allowed to visit.
Whatever the management consultant sees or hears on the job, they keep to themselves, as they respect the confidentiality of the client who has hired them.
By acting in this manner, they give themselves the best possible chance to win repeat business and solid referrals, and they keep the reputation of their business intact.
3) They come up with a variety of solutions
A business consultant may be well-meaning when they come up with a specific solution. However, not all companies will be able or willing to implement it.
It may not be technically feasible, they may lack the budget to make it happen, or no matter how many times it is explained, certain members of the executive team may not understand how it will benefit their company.
Because of these realities, an effective business consultant always comes up with multiple solutions to a specific problem.
These different levels of solutions are often differentiated by their expense in capital or time, giving the client a choice that best fits their needs.
While it can be frustrating to see the client implement a sub-optimal solution due to budgetary concerns, this compromise is a necessary part of being an effective business consultant.
4) They are good at math
Every solution that a business consultant proposes must justify the amount of money and time that will be required to implement them.
For this reason, effective business consultants are often able to do math in their heads on the spot, allowing them to quote executives on the cost of a certain fix.
It is not enough to simply have taken relevant courses in college, as much of the learning that takes place in those environments is quickly forgotten after graduation.
If there is any element of mathematics that requires reinforcement on a regular basis, these professionals practice it in their spare time until it is second nature to them.