Top 3 Traits of High-Performing Consultants


By Lisa Witzig

Dr. Witzig serves as Fuel's CMO, has decades of consulting experience, and enjoys her role as a marketing professor at Colorado State as well. 

Some consultants just have “it” — that certain something that makes them the best at their crafts. In my many years of consulting, I’ve observed outstanding consultants at work and have identified three key traits they share: strong listening skills, deep expertise, and humility.

Strong listening skills. I would have listed “listening skills” three times, but I sense this would have disappointed my readers. I cannot overemphasize this trait: It is critical for consultants to still their thoughts and truly listen. While our clients hire us to have the answers, we should not assume we know the questions. Truly listen. Find out what your client’s pain points are… what motivates him… how she interacts with colleagues and employees… what keeps him up at night. And, listen for what he or she is not saying.

Deep expertise. Our clients hire us to know our subject area, deeply and completely. But, it doesn’t end there. We must keep up with current trends (so true in my area of marketing!) and look outside our area of expertise, too. Take time to think about how things work…how organizations are shaped and why…how the creative process works…what’s trending in pop culture. Truly brilliant consultants are those who can see connections all around them and understand how seemingly random events or knowledge affect their areas of expertise.

Humility. Swagger has its place, but not in consulting. The most brilliant, successful consultant I know also is one of the most humble people I know. Why is this important? Humility makes you accessible, relatable, and likable. Humility helps people open up to you (see listening skills, above). 

There are my top three. They may surprise you. More importantly, I hope they help you. Keep consulting and carry on!

This post is the first in a series of consulting tips brought to you by Fuel’s own consultants. Want more? Peruse our blog, and follow us on Twitter.

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