In my first blog, “Consulting Skills For The Workforce of the Future”, I shared what it takes to become an exceptional consultant – the ability to perform and deliver results as well as more advanced soft skills that allow you to become connected and invaluable, such as executive influence, strategic agility, and political savviness.
Today, I will share another skill which is critical in “Leveling Up” as a consultant. We know that the ability to drive business success and build long-term relationships requires logical and structured thinking. The consultants who pay close attention to the details, immerse themselves into the fabric of the client organization, and are savvy enough to stay clear of business landmines? Those of us on the hiring side know that these are the most valuable consultants of them all.
“The consultants who pay close attention to the details, immerse themselves into the fabric of the client organization, and are savvy enough to stay clear of business landmines? Those of us on the hiring side know that these are the most valuable consultants of them all. “
So, Now What… How do you LEVEL UP as a Consultant?
Do you want just a “Thank you” when you finish a project? Hopefully you want more than that! You should desire a customer who is ferociously finding ways to continue partnering with you because you have become invaluable to their organization. Consultants who are truly “worth their salt” look back on each consulting engagement and ask themselves and their customers “What could I have done differently to improve that experience or outcome?” This should happen even when the engagement is a success, as self-awareness helps us make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively.
Leveling up as a consultant requires a high degree of Emotional Intelligence (EI) – the ability to identify, understand, and manage one’s emotions as well as the emotions of others, in order to build and maintain positive relationships. It also includes being able to think clearly and collaborate to solve problems. 
“Remaining flexible in response to changing circumstances is the “holy grail” in consulting.”
Emotional intelligence provides a level of empathy to place the consultant in the customer’s shoes, so-to-speak. They will understand the perspectives, needs, as well as concerns of the customer. Being empathetic can help to build and stabilize relationships because it builds trust and rapport. Adjusting their approach based on the needs and requirements of the client is the key of understanding and meeting the customer where they are! Remaining flexible in response to changing circumstances is the “holy grail” in consulting.
Priorities as employers continue to evolve and hiring or promoting based on experience and skills are not enough. With recent economic conditions, it’s important to understand the importance of emotions at work. EI is important across all aspects of work, especially in roles requiring interaction and collaboration – which is at the core of what consultants do!
A person with high EI is more likely to:
- Name and express their feelings and connect to their emotions, to be able to understand and manage their responses to stimuli and events. They can identify root causes rather than ineffectively trying to deal with symptoms or results. They are self-aware, openly expressive, and healthily assertive.
- Know what they want and make plans to achieve their goals. They have a better understanding of what drives them. They are more likely to understand what gives them pleasure and why. This means they are more likely to identify their values and know their purpose in life.
- Remain calm in challenging situations. By labeling their feelings and recognizing their emotions, people with high EI can learn to manage their feelings instead of allowing their emotions to hijack their thoughts. This can help them remain calm while others are losing their heads.
So, where are you on the emotional intelligence scale? The following behaviors will help aid you in the journey to highly become emotionally intelligent:
- Practice self-awareness: Pay attention to your own emotions and try to identify what triggers them. Journaling or reflection of day-to-day experiences is a way to begin capturing your emotions.
- Learn to manage your emotions: Once you become more aware of your emotions, you can learn to manage them in a healthy way. Practice deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation.
- Develop empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share feelings of others. Practice active listening, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and compassion.
- Build stronger relationships: Emotional intelligence is also about building strong relationships with others. Be open and honest in your communication, showing appreciation and gratitude, and develop trust.
- Seek feedback: Ask trusted friends or colleagues for feedback on your behavior. This can help you identify areas for improvement and develop a better understanding of how you come across to others.
 Forbes, “Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?”, December 2022