Consulting Skill: Focus on the Client

consulting skill
Consulting Skill: Focus on the Client

The 1998 baseball season was the most exciting season that I can remember.  Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire went head-to-head in a home run race that ended with them both breaking Roger Maris’ 37-year old single-season record of 61 homers.  Sosa hit 64 home runs and McGuire bested that with 70.

Most of us are familiar with the scandals of performance-enhancing drugs by both of them, a corked bat by Sosa and stonewalling in congressional hearings by McGuire that have tainted both of their 1998 achievements.  It was a big disappointment for baseball fans like me.

Despite the cheating and fall from grace of these would-be heroes, there is one moment from that season that sticks in my mind.  Late in the season, Mark McGuire came up to bat with the bases loaded.  He had that focused look on his face that he always had at the plate.  He swung his trademark swing and knocked the ball out of the park for a grand slam.  He trotted the base paths, “touched ‘em all”, went back to the dugout and sat down.

One of his teammates described this scene and said that after he sat on the bench and stared into space for a minute or so, McGuire turned to him and asked, “Was there anyone on base?”

I thought, dude, you just hit a grand salami and didn’t even know if there was anyone on base?

For more information, see Client Relations for Consultants

Now, I don’t mean to belittle the fact that McGuire and Sosa were cheaters.  As a coach for my son’s baseball team, it goes against everything I stand for and want the boys to learn. But I also can’t ignore the focus that McGuire held at the plate that day.  The illegal drugs gave him an unfair advantage in strength, but he provided the focus.

Focus as a consulting skill

When I serve my clients on consulting projects, I use that type of focus as my inspiration.  Maybe not to the point that I don’t know anything else that’s going on; but at least to the point that I can block out all the noise and distractions and be able to concentrate on their issues.

It’s a great day for me when I look at the clock in disbelief that it’s already 5:00 PM.  It’s a sign that I was focused enough to be absorbed in my work and oblivious to time.

This can be carried too far.  If one goes to the degree that McGuire did, they could look at the clock and realize it’s midnight.  They missed dinner with the kids, maybe a daughter’s soccer game.

See my related post: Managing Client Confidentiality

There has to be a balance or you may end up with nothing else to focus on.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms. 

Related Posts
What if Your Plumber Gave You “IT” Customer Service?
Imagine a scenario where you have a pipe that leaks under your kitchen sink.  You may be an expert user of water and all things plumbing, but when it comes ...
READ MORE
Are You Keeping a Client Focus?
In an episode of ‘House of Lies’, the Showtime series loosely based on management consulting, there was a situation where the team was tasked with reviewing a pharmaceutical client’s internal ...
READ MORE
The Difficult Client Types
I've worked in very few organizations that didn’t have a jerk or two walking around.  Over the years I’ve learned to deal with them. In the one situation where the jerk was ...
READ MORE
The 3 Ds of Client Subversion and What To Do
As a consultant, I’ve liked every client I’ve ever served.  There are some, however, that I’ve liked more than others. Every once in a while I run across one person at ...
READ MORE
Protecting Client Confidentiality
Doctors are required to protect confidential patient medical information by law with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  Lawyers are held to an attorney-client privilege holding them to ...
READ MORE
3 Ways to Make Yourself Expendable
We work in an environment of nearly constant change.  Technology has not only changed the way we do virtually everything, the rate of change increases at a more rapid rate ...
READ MORE
Why Are We Here? Is the Daily Question
How often have you entered a meeting wondering why everyone was being brought together for an hour?  How many times have you left the meeting wondering the same thing? Did it ...
READ MORE
The Difference between Consultants and Employees
I was involved in a conversation the other day about what differentiates a consultant from a non-consultant. If you asked a non-consultant, perhaps the first answer you’d get is that there ...
READ MORE
Who sells consulting services?
Early in my career, I worked for a large consulting firm that evaluated their employees on five criteria: Knowledge: How much has the employee learned over the evaluation period? Service: How well ...
READ MORE
Strictly Follow the Rules
In 1990, Burger King launched an advertising campaign with the tagline “Sometimes You’ve Just Got to Break the Rules”.  It was fairly controversial with parents wondering if BK was trying ...
READ MORE
What if Your Plumber Gave You “IT” Customer
Are You Keeping a Client Focus?
The Difficult Client Types
The 3 Ds of Client Subversion and What
Protecting Client Confidentiality
3 Ways to Make Yourself Expendable
Why Are We Here? Is the Daily Question
The Difference between Consultants and Employees
Who sells consulting services?
Strictly Follow the Rules