The 8 Best Consulting Books of 2020
Learn from the best on how to up your skills as a consultant
We are committed to researching, testing, and recommending the best products. We may receive commissions from purchases made after visiting links within our content. Learn more about our review process.
Consulting is a diverse, vast and booming field, but it is also very competitive. Consulting involves, at its core, solving challenges for other businesses in a way that makes you worth the organization’s time and money. Being personable doesn’t hurt, either! In order to succeed in this field, you need to know how to analyze business challenges, form relationships, gain trust, manage conflict, think critically and constantly keep up with trends, both those in your industry and in other seemingly unrelated fields.
In any job interview that will end with you getting a consulting gig, you’ll need to know how to analyze, interpret and provide alternative solutions to case studies – and the books on this list will help you learn to do just that. Hone your skills and become the best consultant you can be with these best consulting books.
Best Overall: The McKinsey Way
McKinsey is one of the best known and well-respected consulting companies in the world, and in this book, one of their former associates lets you in on the secrets to their success. In this marvelous, 208-page book by Ethan M. Rasiel, you’ll learn how to help the world’s most powerful businesses add value to their customers. Though you might think the firms you are working with have nothing in common with Fortune 100 companies, the fundamentals are really the same: You need to understand the situation and problem your client is facing thoroughly, find a way to solve it and convince management to undertake that plan. Easy, right? Well, doing something and doing it well are not always one in the same. If you want to act like the best, you’ve got to read this book by someone who works for the best.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: The Trusted Advisor
At the end of the day, the title of this book sums up what the best consultants really are: trusted advisors. This book teaches you how to gain your clients trust, and how to develop healthy relationships with them once you do. Once you gain trust, this book also walks you through how to sell your ideas without getting on others’ nerves or losing that trust, as well as how to tackle the most difficult cases – and deal with the most challenging personalities – with grace and poise. Examples abound inside this work that will help you learn from the work others have already done in their careers, in order to learn how to truly shine in your own career.
Best on How to Learn From Case Studies: Case in Point
The most important part of any consulting interview is the case interview, in which you’ll be expected to quickly read and analyze a case, understand the key challenges and provide a solution. Many times, these cases will involve scenarios in unfamiliar industries or cultures. But if you know the fundamentals of reading and interpreting case studies, you’ll eventually come to anticipate this part of the interview with excitement. Why? Because once you read Case in Point, you’ll know how to use the case as an opportunity to show what you know. This book breaks down the different methods for analyzing case studies, as well as the fundamentals of higher-level case analysis, in a way that a novice and seasoned consultant alike can learn and grow from.
Best for Writing Like A Consultant: The Pyramid Principle
There is nothing that will benefit the communications you send as a consultant more than learning and using the pyramid principle, which this book explains in exquisite detail. Basically, the most effective consultants start by giving their recommended solution to the problem – what journalists refer to as not burying the lede. Then, as in any great persuasive essay, they organize their key points and effectively explain each one. Author Barbara Minto's techniques are sure to change how you express yourself on paper and in person.
Best For Finding Your Niche: Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
Don’t panic just yet, but in today’s fast-changing work environments, you have to prove your worth in order to stick around. Thankfully, Seth Godin is here in this invaluable book to teach you how to find, develop, and prove your worth as a consultant. Once you are able to see your work as a unique art and something you’re uniquely capable of doing, you’ll begin to grow into yourself and your career path. This book will teach you how to become not only a leader in your company but an indispensable player in your team and the consultant everyone comes to rely upon.
Best for Climbing The Career Ladder: The Management Consultant
This book will teach you everything you need to know…about everything you need to know. Let us explain: Richard Newton’s book covers all of the areas you’ll need to master in order to have a successful career as a management consultant. Whether you’re working for a large firm or paving your way as a freelance consultant, this guide will teach you (and teach you how) to develop certain attributes that make consultants particularly helpful for clients, as well as secrets to building trust with your clients. It’s particularly useful for those hoping to develop a solo career as well.
Best for Fostering Relationships: Flawless Consulting
In consulting, it’s not enough to be an expert – you also have to convince people that your ideas are worth using, and a big part of that is getting people to want to listen to you in the first place. It’s not enough to just be likable, either: You have to simultaneously prove that you are worth listening to and that the company has something to gain from listening to you. Enter Peter Block’s sensitive and informative work, which addresses a myriad of scenarios that you’re likely to face as a consultant. The book also walks you through how to deal with more challenging people, work remotely without sounding cold and coming across as unprofessional, work internationally and in different cultures, as well as ask the sorts of questions that will help you be the best consultant that you can be.
Best ‘Vegetable’ Book: Valuation
If you really want to be as good at your job as the people who work at McKinsey, you’re going to have to eat your vegetables – specifically, your math vegetables. Whether you were a wünderkid who excelled at math or someone who fumbled through business calculus, this incredibly thorough book by McKinsey and company will teach you (or provide an excellent refresher course on) the ins and outs of valuation, a key skill that all effective consultant possess. Yes, parts of this huge and comprehensive volume might feel like a textbook, but you’ll also find illustrative case studies that help you apply what you’re being taught at every step of the way.