Seeing as how I do consulting work, the title of this post probably doesn’t seem to make much sense; however it’s something that desperately needs to be discussed. With a number of folks hanging out a shingle, consultants/coaches and other helping professionals are easy to find. There are packaged products available online that are the latest and greatest thing promising to deliver that ever exclusive secret to whatever ailment has plagued your organization.

In a down economy, these inexpensive things become quite attractive because it seems like a great way to shore up the part of your company that seems to be drip bleeding to death. Even if you actually have someone come into your organization to facilitate a workshop or do a keynote, it could be grossly ineffective.

The problem isn’t necessarily with the consultant/coach or helping professional, the problem lies in your approach to why you want to hire them or buy their products. If you’re chasing the latest “fix” because you want to be able to move your company forward, you are setting yourself up for some serious disappointment and any helping professional worth their salt won’t work with you.

You’re not exactly leading if you’re chasing a quick fix. Things such as leadership development, culture development, employee engagement and the other things many consultants do need to become an integral part of your business strategy…not a fix-a-flat type patch. It is absolutely important that you bring in a consultant with caution, but also bring them in with passion and vigor. If you’re ONLY trying to make a problem go away, your motivation is all wrong.

The solution to your problem should serve your business strategy and vision. If it doesn’t, you won’t allocate the appropriate resources and the chances of any implementation strategy will be terribly under-supported and quite ineffective. As a rule, I vet my clients as much as they vet me. If they aren’t approaching the needed change in their organization with the proper motivation to make a sustainable difference and change, then I don’t work with them. I don’t want a string of marginally affected clients dogging my track record.

If you’re just looking to try and paint something ugly to make it look pretty for the sake of appearances to investors, stakeholders or customers, save your money. It won’t stick and it’s much more transparent than you think. Don’t waste your companies resources. The real market leaders make hiring consultants an investment because their motivation is in the right spot. If you’re considering bringing someone on board to work through a few issues, make sure it’s in line with your vision and values; make it an integral part of your strategy.

Collaborate and brainstorm with your consultant. Ask questions. Find ways to communicate the heartbeat of your organization and why having them involved with your company is so important to you. Let the passion of your vision be a natural part of your conversation with them. Make the most of your money and hire consultants/coaches and helping professionals for the right reasons.

  • Nicely stated, I couldn’t agree with you more. It is so important for business leaders to understand WHY they are seeking outside help and more importantly what their specific role will be in enhancing their desired outcomes. The consultant can’t fix things, they can only facilitate the appropriate moves and align thoughts around a shared vision. The rest is up to the people doing the work, which will look to leadership for assurance and guidance.


  • So true Bill. Not only does leadership have to have the right motivation, but also the perseverance to follow through on implementation. Thanks for your contribution and thoughts!

  • Very well said! The bar is fairly low when it comes to the qualifications to become a consultant. In fact a lot of C-level executives have such a bad taste in thier mouth with consultants (for some of the reasons you outlined in your article above and for some self inflicted reasons) that the new word is now “coach” as if to bring more panache to the title (e.g janitor is now a custodial engineer). Great consultants are clear on their cost, scope and schedule and give the customer a way to measure ROI for their services. If there services do not deliver as promised they give the money back…end of story. This makes the “truly qualified” consultants senstive to vetting their clients before taking the money. Well done…good read!

  • Great points Kirk. If there is no return, why bother initiating the relationship (by either party)? Thanks for your insight and contribution.