A century ago the predominant leadership style was the ‘great man’ approach driven by a strong hierarchical structure that placed power in descending order valuing compliance rather than collaboration (Northouse, 2013). The landscape of leadership has shifted, demanding change in the profession of consulting.
Within the shift of consulting there is a shift toward a collaborative approach, which raises the ceiling on possibilities for clients being served. Some consultants approach their relationship with clients as an exclusive arrangement, limiting or even forbidding involvement from others by offering reasons why others may create discord rather than lead to any benefits (Greiner & Poulfelt, 2010). This is a competitive model used in private-sector business (Greiner & Poulfelt, 2010), but does not provide a healthy client relationship, particularly as the Millennial generation becomes the predominant generation of the workforce. Millennials are collaborative by nature, and relationships that are exclusive and limit inclusion of others is a turn off to them (Moritz, 2014). Consultants who desire to serve Millennials and be a part of the future of business transformation must adopt a collaborative approach and use a more cross-functional team approach using experts from various sectors (Greiner & Poulfelt, 2010).
This approach is grounded in a consultant’s professionalism: a state of mind embedded in behavior recognized by clients (Greiner & Poulfelt, 2010). The skills of professionalism are earning people’s trust, providing advice without being condescending, gathering and synthesizing information for change, and helping others increase productivity (Greiner and Poulfelt, 2010). All of these skills help build a collaborative relationship with the client, which provides greater opportunity for effectiveness and impact for the client. Consultants with such skills are serving their clients in a fashion modeled by Jesus (Jn. 13:1-17)
How does one find the balance of being an advisor while still serving the client?
Greiner, L. E., & Poulfelt, F. (Eds.). (2010). Management consulting today and tomorrow: perspectives and advice from 27 leading world experts. New York: Routledge.
Moritz, B. (2014). How I Did It: The U.S. chairman of PwC on keeping Millennials engaged. Harvard Business Review, (11), 41.
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed). Thousand Oaks: SAGE