Consultant Vs Employee Leadership

As we look out across the fruited plain and blogosphere, we see careerists in sales. Perhaps not the traditional sales role that your are thinking of but the truth is we all sell something, everyday. We sell ideas, knowledge, experience, and even personalities. But you are no used car salesman, right? You are something much more complicated and deeper…You, are a consultant (should you choose to be).

So here is the question: In today’s professional environment, aren’t we really internal consultants for our organization? Undoubtedly, the job market and structural forces have changed significantly from what our parents and grandparents witnessed. And thus, our answer: Yes, we are internal consultants. However, it goes way beyond the concept of promoting ideas, knowledge, experience, personality, etc. Consultant leadership is a mentality and a distinct adversary to employee leadership. The bottom line is that when you begin to think like a consultant, it changes everything! Everything in that leadership becomes much more challenging, harder, but also more rewarding and fulfilling. So as we dive deeper, the next question arises: What do Consultant Leaders do that Employee Leaders don’t? We can start to answer this by considering the following 3 steps to Consultant Leadership:

Embrace Problems Solving

Here is a tenant of life that professionals must reflect on and resolve within their own hearts and minds. Problems employ you! Problems are the demand for our product. Start with the mindset that problems are infinite and they are the lifeblood source for your existence in the working world. Employees disdain problems. Consultants embrace them.

Think Critically

If there ever is a time to differentiate through your abilities, the time is now. And this is where critical thinking comes in. As a professional and college graduate (or soon to be), critical thinking is what distinguishes you from technology and other “employees”. Prepare yourself to ask the question “Why”. And then prepare to channel your inner scientist as you will need to perform “What If?” experiments. Employees assume and propagate status quo. Consultants aggressively question.

Take Risks

Life is full of risks. Careers are full of risks. The key here is that you avoid the hunker down approach, often assumed by employees. All too often, fear paralyzes the employee leader to the point where zero risk is taken. Avoid this approach! Rather, seek to take appropriate and measured risks when the opportunity presents. How do you know when to assume risk? Keep it simple and do the right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time. Employees hunker down. Consultants put it on the line when needed.