Management consultants are professionals who are able to dive into an organization’s problems and rise with a solution. In order to create these solutions you must be able to think quickly and objectively and express yourself succinctly and persuasively to win over a team.
The following skills form the basis of the IMC USA’s Certified Management Consultant® qualification (CMC®). These are the foundation of the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required of a management consultant. Becoming a successful management consultant requires a competitive drive and foundation of professional ethics and behaviors, on top of these five vital skills, to create positive, impacting changes in a client’s organization.
1. Experience Grows Over Time
The one skill that only comes with time is experience. The more experience under your belt, the better equipped you are to face any problems or situations that can arise. With more experience, reactions and decisions become smarter and consultants are able to handle more complex and urgent projects.
Many management consulting agencies will often ask a case study question during an interview to determine how experienced and knowledgeable a candidate is. The only way to gain knowledge is by putting yourself out there and adding more experience to your resume. Mentors and colleagues can become perfect outlets for counsel and advice.
As you work towards a higher position in the team, learn from mistakes, learn from success, and ask questions. Only then will you gain the experience to become a successful and knowledgeable consultant.
2. Organization Focus
Having the ability to effectively organize a company can give their client the edge that sets them apart from the competition. In order to lead a company on a successful path, a consultant must create a functional structure so that a company can thrive through different departments. These departments have unique focuses and create individual goals to create efficiency and ultimately, success.
In the early stages of a management consultant’s development this is equivalent to lending tactical support to middle management. As a consultant advances they will be able to give general business advice to managers and executives, eventually graduating to providing broad, strategic advice to senior managers and executives or even the Board of Directors.
After realizing their client’s goal, a management consultant must keep it in mind and always be thinking how they will take the company a step closer to reaching it. In order to do this, the consultant must also keep the company focused and on the same page. Every department must work together with the same overall goal in mind in order to be successful in reaching the finish line made by the consultant. This functional business advice is all possible thanks to a clear, focused structure and strategy created and properly executed by the management consultant.
3. Adding Breadth to Your Knowledge
Being able to bring a new skill or expertise to the table and apply it to your client’s needs is a highly valuable trait. Find a technical skill or area of business that you are truly interested in or passionate about. Learn everything you can.
At first you will start to narrow in on this specialty or industry and become immersed in it. As you learn more you will find ways to apply this knowledge across all industries and organizations to create an impact. Once your scope has been mastered, create new approaches to applying this expertise across multiple industries and disciplines. This way of thinking will create innovation and positive change for your clients.
4. Technological Expertise in a Digital Age
As technology evolves into the future, the business market will evolve along with it. It is up to you to be well-versed in the technical side of business and know what is happening with big data, mobile computing, and the Internet of Things. Without this knowledge you could be missing out on key aspects of a successful business plan for your client’s organization.
Social media, the latest technology, and the best data software are all essential in understanding your client’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. According to the IMCA’s framework, this expertise plays into developing skills defined by the Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) and Competency Framework (CF). Once these skills are mastered and fine tuned, a successful management consultant can secure, design, and manage large, complex, team-based consulting projects.
5. Communicate Your Ideas and Plans with Skill
These vital skills add up to nothing unless the consultant is able to effectively and persuasively communicate their ideas and plans for their client. Not only must you be able to present it clearly, but also be able to win over the organization and make them believe in your advice and knowledge of their industry.
A consultant is always bringing change to a company. Some of the organization they are working with will be open and ready for change, while the others will resist. Without effective communication skills to make the client comfortable, confident, and passionate about the changes, the resistance could win and the consultant questioned.
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