How many times have you heard someone launch into a story with the statement, “I went to this great seminar and learned all these really cool techniques.”? It’s probably happened hundreds of times, if not thousands. We’ve all been to seminars where we go back and try out some piece of information and it just doesn’t seem to work – or worse yet, it’s completely inappropriate for the client. And then we go back to work feeling like a failure says Rizwan Ahmed CPA.
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Sin 1: The Sin Of Novelty – Relying Too Much On New Techniques And Not Enough On What You Already Know – Sometimes We Want To Be Stars So Badly That We Fail To Recognize That It’s A Team Sport.
The first sin of consulting is relying too much on new techniques and not enough on what you already know says Rizwan Ahmed CPA. For example, I remember the story of one consultant who went to a course where he learned some really cool stuff, but he didn’t practice anything before his presentation because it was difficult to practice individual parts of his presentation without doing the entire presentation for someone. Because he had never seen anyone else use these techniques in presentations, so they must be brand new. But later that day, after his presentation, he saw that almost everyone else had used the same techniques in their presentations. So it’s OK to be excited about learning something new – just remember to do your homework before you bring it home.
Sin 2: The Sin of Vanity – Being More Concerned with Looking Good than Getting Results – I’ll Just Practice This One Little Piece A Few Times and Then I’ll Be Ready for My Presentation.
The second sin of consulting is being more concerned with looking good than getting results. In other words, it’s tempting to spend your time perfecting the delivery of something instead of preparing for why you are going to use a particular technique. For example, if you’ve been told that visuals are important and you’ve been practicing making little circles on paper with a pen all week long, but when it comes time to deliver your presentation you have no idea how those circles relate to the you want to make, then you’re missing the, “so what?” component.
Sin 3: The Sin of Indifference – Believing That If You Don’t Care About Your Clients and Their Problems Then They Won’t Care Either – I Couldn’t Care Less.
The third sin of consulting is that if you don’t care about your clients and their problems then they won’t care either. This is about having urgency, passion, involvement, caring – the kind of attitude that screams “I’m here to help you.” Think about your favorite teachers and how much they cared about you and how it made a big difference in what you learned says Rizwan Ahmed CPA.
Sin 4: The Sin of Presumption – Assuming You Know More Than You Actually Do – I Don’t Know Why We’re Doing It That Way – Let’s Try It My Way and See What Happens.
The fourth sin of consulting is presumption where we assume we know more than we actually do know. This often happens when consultants learn one part of a process or technique and think that they must be an expert because they attended a “seminar” when in fact they still have a lot to learn.
Sin 5: The Sin of False Consensus – Believing That If Everyone in the Room Agrees With You That You Must Be Right – I Don’t Know What’s Wrong With Them They Should Agree With Me.
The fifth sin of consulting is focusing on false consensus where we believe that if everyone in the room agrees with us then we must be right. Often times, though, consultants are so concerned about being right that they neglect their need to engage and convince others how important it is for them to follow your lead.
Sin 6: The Sin Of Vanity II – Being More Concerned About Being Creative Than Getting Results – We Just Came Up With A Cool Name For Our Approach.
The sixth sin of consulting is that we are often more concerned about being creative in developing our own approach rather than getting results. This happens when consultants spend too much time on their own ideas and not enough time on the needs of the client explains Rizwan Ahmed CPA.
Sin 7: The Sin of False Precision – Believing That You Have To Act or Speak With Exactness When a Rule Is Often an Approximation – Let’s Do It My Way and See How It Goes.
The seventh sin of consulting is false precision where we believe that you have to act or speak with exactness when a rule is often an approximation, which means it’s OK to be flexible with the rules sometimes. For example, if you’re told to never use percent signs in your presentation, sometimes they can actually be helpful.
Consulting is a hard gig. We’ve all been there and know how tough it can be to deal with clients who don’t understand what you do, but want you to do something else; people who make unreasonable demands; managers whose problem-solving skills are not their forte; bosses who think that they’re in command, when in fact they don’t understand the true state of affairs says Rizwan Ahmed CPA.
But if we learn these 7 Sins and embrace the lessons we learned from them we will avoid many pitfalls and become braver, stronger and more competent consultants. And isn’t that why we got into this business in the first place?