Too busy to change? That is me. I would like to improve lots of things but I have to choose. The things I am not doing come at a cost. I hope I am choosing my priorities wisely. My job is to support the choices of others and the processes that will enable them to act. This is not easy because they are busy, too.
Being a consultant is a privilege. Clients trust us with their business, their careers and with supporting them through some difficult decisions. Each decision will require someone to change. They call us in because a problem exists. That problem is creating immediate needs and those need attention. Their capacity is stretched and without addressing the fundamental issues they will continue to experience dysfunction and have a reduced ability to lead.
So what is the solution? First, as a consultant I need to empathize with the demands leadership places on our clients. The result is to ask only what can be given and to make it easy for them to receive our support. For the client, it is to match their expectations to where they are in the process of change. Together we need to create shared responsibility for solving the root of the issue. The purpose is defined by what matters when their leadership is successful.
When the goal is met, not only have we all changed but they have also achieved a collective goal. This can mean safer conditions for employees, more housing for the vulnerable or a transportation system that carries people to work faster and cheaper. A commitment to tackling change consciously and head-on has a great reward. Our role as consultants should be to see clients achieve this success.
Empathy and Helpfulness are Required
- Most of the time for desirable outcomes to be achieved the first people that need to do something differently are executives. The expectation is that they model the new way of doing things. They are willing most of the time. We need to make sure they are also able.
- To accomplish organizational change we call them into steering groups and ask for their sponsorship. We require them to create the space to do the work of change. They brought us in for support and we ask them to do more. This is the challenge of leadership and with our role as consultants.
Our role as consultants should be to add to their capacity and yet we need their time and attention to be helpful.
- Immediately the consultant should do some heavy lifting for them, connect the dots, do the research, review documents and get up to speed. Then we should summarize what we learn so they can make decisions. We should lead by leaving them with the decision but not all the work.