I’ve been a tech consultant for several years. Having come from a long history of CxO-level roles, head-of-this, chief-of-that, chair-of-the-other, I find myself, for the first time, alone. I still have busy days engaging with people, my inbox is as hectic as ever, the IM pings are continuous and my schedule isn’t pretty. Working in teams is something I miss but I’m fortunate that many of my most trusted colleagues have remained in touch. Travel is a thing of the past, thankfully (as it was becoming tedious). There’s nobody to whom I can delegate and nobody to whom I must report other than my clients.
During a recent meeting with some people at a government agency that is tasked with providing advice and tangible support to small businesses I was reflecting on the nature of my role as consultant. They remarked on something I’d observed over the years: great business leaders will recognise their limitations and reach out for help. In the larger companies, that help can often come from within. For the smaller companies, they have to look outside. This is where these government agencies and occasionally consultants like me come into the picture.
Mine is the advice/opinion kind of consultancy, not the executive kind that involves management/oversight. Offering advice is hard work. “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” I look at where a company is, and where it wants to be. Then I ask some probing questions. Then I listen. Followed by some research, probably some more questions and finally I offer reasoned suggestions to get the company from here to there.
Listening is the hardest part. It consumes a lot of time. It’s also a part of the process that I really enjoy because I learn so much. Sometimes a round-table session with the company’s senior staff is the first time they’ve collectively tried to explain to an outsider what they do and how they do it. Such a session can be an opportunity for staff to learn more about the operations of other functions in their company. The CEO is usually involved in these meetings, and will often find them enlightening.
It has taken decades for me to acquire the knowledge and experience to do what I do. I’m so glad to see the positive impacts that result, and I look forward to continuing this work for years to come. Onwards and upwards!
Categorised as: Business