Can You Become a Great Consultant?

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Brains, work ethic and drive are the qualities top consulting firms say they look for in a consultant. The top MBA prestige school candidates are fawned over for those qualities, hopefully igniting work and billing flow in the largest firms. But a deeper look reveals it is more than raw brainpower but an ability to handle complex, unique problems that require uncommon expertise and creativity that top firms seek.

Leaders of top firms give us more insight. As one of the top New York consultants said: “My career has been about marketing, that’s what I’m all about and how I made this firm the leader.” So what’s it take to build a career leading to a large practice for you or becoming head of a major firm?

In order to make it big it would be good to look at how you think about your Core Abilities. Listing what you like to do, what is easy for you and what is natural for you is how to start. Core Abilities are key building blocks for consultants on the move up. Here are the most important Core Abilities:

Personal Qualities:

  • I view myself as my own best investment
  • I thrive on unpredictability with little concern for job security
  • I have chosen a field in consulting which I really enjoy and am good at

Communication and Persuasion Skills:

  • I have presence and crispness in communicating with confidence
  • I always provide a vision of the future
  • I’m driven to organize, to explain and to convince
  • I keep my cool under pressure
  • I engage in the moment
  • I’m invested with clients, feel I am a partner

An Inquiring and Open Mind:

  • I look for new ways to find the answer
  • I ask questions going beyond the surface
  • I’m committed to producing the best solution
  • I jump in looking for challenges and how to take action

To be successful in consulting requires an ability to cope with changing situations and being constantly on your toes and goes beyond being intelligent, hardworking and driven. If your core abilities include many from the above list you are a good candidate for a career and maybe one day leading a large consulting practice.

Charles Moldenhauer is the founder of New York-based Executive Transitioning, a career coaching firm focusing on C-level executives and senior managers.