Soft skills are very important when evaluating likability or fit for a certain job. Unlike hard skills, which are about relevant skill set or particular abilities to carry out certain type of tasks, soft skills relate to one’s ability to interact effectively with people.
In consulting, it is extremely important to develop the following soft skills:
Charismatic and Sociable
Consultants need to interact with different types of people on a regular basis. That’s why being charming and likable will definitely do wonders for your career as a consultant. How people perceive you will have a direct effect on your consulting career. Apparently, if your clients perceive you as personable it will be easier for them to trust you. Also, if your team members find you approachable, it will be much easier to collaborate and achieve your goals. However, being highly sociable must not be confused with cockiness.
Strong Work Ethic
This skill is a major requirement perhaps for any kind of job. In consulting, it is imperative that you display this characteristic every single time. As you will be working with big, reputable companies as well as influential and intelligent people, it is only fit that you show professionalism. Also, strong work ethic means being willing to go the extra mile to help a client achieve its goals. Good consultants are ready to go beyond the call of duty just to get the job done.
Having a positive attitude towards work, and perhaps towards everything, would be beneficial to your career as a consultant. Go-getters are very much attractive to top firms. As a consultant you should be able to help improve employee morale or motivate team members. And you can only achieve this if you display a positive attitude. Even if you are not naturally bubbly and tend to be more low-key, there are many ways to exhibit positive energy, like always smiling or perhaps simply saying a few encouraging lines or giving compliments.
Oral and Written Communication Skills
The ability to communicate your ideas clearly is perhaps one of the most important skills you need as a consultant. You see, the main product that you are selling is your ideas or insights. And in order for your client to buy this idea from you, you need to let them know exactly what it is. You need to be able to express your thoughts in the simplest and clearest manner. Most tension and stressed are due to inability to communicate clearly. So it is extremely helpful if you have a way with words. That’s why excellent communicators generally do well in consulting.
Ability to Listen
Good consultants are good listeners. Why? Because listening takes more than hearing what the other person is saying, it requires understanding. You won’t be able to help any organization deal with their problem if you don’t fully understand what their needs and goals are. Many people tend to listen passively. If you want to succeed in consulting, effectively listening skill is a must have. This means being able to know what and when to ask questions and when to be quiet and simply listen to every word. Good communication is not just about expressing yourself, it is also about engaging and understanding the other party.
Consultants are expected to have strong leadership skills. They are generally achievers and socially involved. While many say that some are born leaders, this skill can be developed. As a consultant you will manage different types of people so you need to possess the ability to lead and manage effectively. Remember, the mark of a true leader is not about the position held, it’s about taking responsibility and influencing your team towards achieving a common goal. Lead by example – motivate and show initiative.
Teamwork / Team Building
Consulting is not a job for someone who doesn’t want to collaborate with people on a daily basis. Yes, you need to have strong leadership skills to be a good consultant, but you also need to have a teamwork mindset. It’s not just about you making the big decisions. You must learn to acknowledge other people’s expertise and make time to help those people who are working with you on your project.
As client and team interaction would be an integral part of your life as a consultant, it is important that you know how to resolve conflicts within the team and even more prevent them from happening. In fact, it is a vital trait for any leadership role. This skill is key to the longevity of any relationship. Conflicts generally arise from differing needs, ideas, values or opinions. When handled in a respectful manner, conflict may provide an opportunity to strengthen the bond between parties. Be patient and recognize the ways to come to a compromise.
Many people tend to struggle in terms of managing their time, tasks and responsibilities effectively. As a consultant, you may need to juggle around multiple clients at certain times. With that, it is really important that you have efficient time management skill. Learn how to set priorities and stick to your schedule.
As a consultant, you would be making big decisions and you should not be afraid to make them. You must then have confidence in your knowledge and skills. If you don’t seem look pretty confident, you won’t earn the trust of your clients, colleagues and team members. Speak, dress and act with confidence.
Work under Pressure
Every work has a deadline to meet. And you need to be pretty good at working under pressure in order to hit challenging deadlines in consulting. You must learn the art of achieving maximum results in a short amount of time. In order to do this you need to stay focused.
Persuading, Influencing and Negotiating Skills
Consultants also need to master the art of persuasion. It will be part of your daily consulting life to influence and negotiate with other people, particularly with your clients and team members. This is actually a primary skill for anyone in the business field. Influencing people in a positive way will greatly help an organization achieve its goals. However, this must not involve coercion in any form. Rather, it’s about acknowledging other opinions but being able to change their minds.
To succeed in the consulting world, you need to have a passion for constant learning. You should also have the ability to stretch your skills in order to adapt to the ever changing needs of your clients.
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