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What Consulting Has Taught Me About Success

There is a lot to get out of working with accomplished and unique leaders.

To me, one of the most important things about being a consultant is having the privilege to work with accomplished and unique leaders. They are diverse in their perspectives, approaches, and execution. I learn from every one of them. That is what I love about what I get to do every day — I help people and get to continuously learn from inspiring, thoughtful and immensely talented leaders. It requires an on-going commitment to learn and adapt. It also reinforces the absolute necessity to be humble in order to see and be open to accepting the wisdom of others. We apply expertise when needed, but ours is mostly a role of facilitating dialogue, questioning assumptions, and applying lessons learned from other clients or other industries in order to expand our client’s thinking. Any consultant or leader will miss greater understanding if they come in as the “smartest person in the room”. Our value is in our ability to listen, adapt, understand, question and co-create.

Being a consultant has taught me and continues to reinforce an understanding of the uniqueness that is business. There are no two businesses that are alike. Yes, many consultants want to take the best practices or “this has been successful before” approach to solving complex organizational challenges. Yet, companies are made up of diverse people who are part of unique cultures and work in distinct environments. There is no “one size fits all” solution set — we must embrace the originality of business and the people who make the business run. Consulting reminds me of the importance of embracing the unique organizational identity as well as culture and social contracts that exist within every organization. I have seen over and over how companies are successful when they focus on the people — when we do right by our people, they will do right by us.

Below are a few other things that I am reminded of every day as I work with companies and their leaders:

  1. People need to belong to something bigger than themselves. They want to belong to a dream, plan, or initiative that is bigger than their individual experience. People don’t invest themselves in operations, they give at a level where they are all in when they become a part of aspirational, impactful, big ideas and initiatives. They have a deep desire to fit in and create human connections. Building and articulating an organizational identity within which all can see their role and contribution is vital. People need to understand the social contract, the expectations and the objectives.
  2. Positivity is the glue that holds your company together and connects everything. It is one of the most powerful catalysts for profitability and a key driver of the health and well-being of your workforce. Positivity is more than a mindset. It is a way of leading and connecting that both binds together and encourages freedom. It connects the organizational box, it connects leaders to big ideas, and connects employees to what is possible. Positivity focuses on, activates and amplifies what works within an organization to drive performance and bolsters every push forward. When companies adopt positivity, we see them achieve at higher levels with a more engaged workforce.
  3. Understanding and embracing the uniqueness of every company is fundamental to success. There is nothing more important than making sense of the company and embracing the individuality that makes it unique. We too often try to be something we are not or to emulate another company. But, that is not us. It is why every beginning in our work starts with constructing a company’s unique “clarity box” — a six-sided cube that helps make sense of the organization. This starts with getting to the core of the culture and identifying the DNA that is the company. This box, which takes a deep dive into the company direction, operations, people and engagement, provides the construct for understanding and engagement. When leaders create and work inside this organizational box, they create deeper understanding for their leaders and the workforce. This is a key component to clarity.
  4. Leaders that actively work to connect to people yield greater, more sustainable outcomes. We are reminded every day of the power of people. When they are motivated, engaged and connected to each other, to the company and to leadership, performance is elevated. Every great company in which we work has leaders who embrace the ideas and ideals of genuine connection and working to humanize them. At the heart of organizational clarity are the people who make up our companies. When they feel connected, boundaries are erased, and the possibilities are magnified.

Originally published on Quora.

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