Consultants are professionals who are experts on a subject matter or field and who advise a business on how best to achieve some goal or end result. Due to the guidance they give others, consultants are often big-picture individuals. They must possess the strength—or talent—to act as advisors, facilitators, educators, and cheerleaders, all wrapped into one package.
What Are Strengths and Weaknesses
The common thought is that we all naturally possess strengths and weaknesses, but in reality, we don’t. What we do possess are natural talents and non-talents, and it’s important to keep in mind that these are not the same as strengths and weaknesses.
Natural talents are those abilities we possess that are the result of how our minds think and make decisions. They are not learned by reading books or taking a class. It is how we use these natural talents or abilities that determine if we have potential strengths and potential weaknesses.
Consultant Strengths and Weaknesses
Consultants understand their limitations. They know their field of expertise and focus their attention on solving problems within that field. These professionals know that you don't solve complex problems without enlisting the help of a team and know how to organize and lead that team.
Often they are natural leaders. People tend to listen to them because they possess great communication skills. Great consultants meet a client at the client's level and work with them to determine goals and set a course of action to reach those goals.
They are patient and persistent. Consultants understand that there will be push-back from employees who are set in the way they do things and resistant to change from the known, comfortable method to a new and challenging method.
Consultants have to have the ability—or talent—to remain flexible. They need to quickly adjust to the clients they work with and find the best approach to lead the client to their desired goal.
The Hard Truths of Talent
When you allow your success to depend on your talents, you manufacture strengths. As an example, you are naturally very good at problem-solving. Your job relies heavily on your ability to solve problems. Thus, by creating dependence on the natural ability you possess, you have manufactured a strength. If your job never required you to solve problems, you would still have the same ability—just not an actual, realized, strength.
When you allow your success to depend on your non-talents, you manufacture weaknesses. An example of this is, you are not naturally good at detailed work. Your job, unfortunately, requires an immense amount of detailed work. Because you’ve accepted this job, and its requirement of a talent you do not possess—you’ve manufactured a weakness by creating a dependence on your non-talent.
You control this potential by how you apply yourself. Once you’ve made this shift in perspective, you’ll realize that any weaknesses you have to exist only because you’ve manufactured them—by allowing your success to depend on them. You should also realize that you can correct a weakness by removing that dependence—that’s the exciting part.
The most successful consultants understand the differences between strengths and weakness—talents and non-talents—in the people and businesses they deal consult. A good consultant doesn't spend their time trying to “fix” a weakness. Instead, they make sure that their success doesn't depend on the non-talents. If it is something that must be done, they outsource it.
So how do you make sure you don’t manufacture any weaknesses? Be sure to create a role for yourself that relies as much as possible on your natural strengths as a consultant, and as little as possible on your weaknesses. Give specific thought to what services you will provide and see how they correlate to your natural talents and non-talents. Ask yourself if you’re manufacturing a weakness by doing so.
As a consultant, you are in a rare position to craft the perfect role for yourself. One that maximizes dependence on your natural talents, and minimizes dependence on any non-talents. Just remember, you’re in charge of whether you manufacture weaknesses or strengths, no one else.