What Makes A Great Consulting Manager?

It’s tough managing a team who is expected to do more with less. They’re stressed out and running fast. How can you be a great consulting manager-and be prepared for the onslaught of demands?

What makes a great consulting manager? In interviewing my clients about this, I found several qualities consistently rose to the top. Let me share them with you right now.

Top qualities for a great consulting manager include:

1. Listening

At the heart of true consultative skill is listening. What are individuals saying? And most importantly, what are people expressing non-verbally?

The best managers pay attention to communication at all levels. Verbal. Emotional. Non-verbal. Interpersonal. It is the broadest scope of listening that allows them to do their magic.

2. Collaboration

You can’t fake collaboration. You either believe in it…or you don’t. If at your core you believe that you can do things better without other people, it will show. If you are committed and passionate about collaboration, this also shows.

Great managers are rooted in collaboration. They aren’t just paying lip service to the words. They know that the best solutions arise out of team performance.

3. Visual Thinking

Consultative managers are active visual thinkers. They use visual communication to run meetings, display strategies, track projects and connect with customers.

If there is an area where visual thinking is not in play, they are open to finding out about it. One of the trademarks of a highly functioning team is a collaborative visual team room. This room is usually filled with charts, posters and sketches. It often contains whiteboards, flipcharts and areas for visual conversations.

4. Open and Honest

The best managers speak openly and honestly about what’s going on. They don’t mince words or play political games. What you see is what you get.

While this kind of communication style may not win them friends, everyone knows where he or she stands. There is a term called, ‘in the shadow of the leader.’ When the manager or leader is a candid communicator, this ripples out to the rest of the team.

5. No Barriers

A great consultative sales manager once told me, “I hate barriers. If someone in the organization says it can’t be done…I’m the first one to challenge it.”

Great managers fight barriers. They refuse to accept that things can’t be done.

6. Understanding and Anticipating

All managers strive to be understanding and anticipating of their team’s needs. Managers often are the bridge between senior leaders and teams. They are under intense pressure to achieve organizational goals and manage daily realities.

The best managers evaluate every single interaction with clarity and understanding. They perceive several moves ahead, much like a master chess player.

In addition, they have an eye out for individual and career goals. Rather than hold on to individuals, they are ready to create opportunities that help team members achieve their potential.

7. Learning and Leading

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

-John F. Kennedy

Learning and leadership go hand in hand. Great managers are avid learners. Whether from conversation, classes, workshops or websites…they are always learning.

The golden thread that runs through these values is clear. Great consulting managers have phenomenal communication skills. This shows up in one-on-one and group interactions.

Communication skills make the difference between a good and a great consulting manager.

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