The Thick Skin of a Consultant

Thick Skin
The Thick Skin of a Consultant

Suppose you hire a local landscaping firm to care for your lawn.  During a backyard party, if a guest comments that your bushes are overgrown and the grass is cut unevenly, you might respond that it’s that darn service you contracted with.

If the same guest commented how beautiful your lawn looks, you might be just as likely to say “Thank you” and avoid the confusion of explaining to him that you hire a firm to handle it.  You were, after all, responsible for hiring the landscapers, right?

Thick skin in consulting

The same situation applies in the consulting and professional services industry.  The client tends to hold the consultant responsible when things wrong.  But they’re willing to claim the credit when things go well.

A good executive knows how to manage risks.  When she leads up a major initiative, she will transfer some of that risk by hiring a consulting firm to provide advice, project management and any other expertise needed to insure success for the project.

Moreover, the executive is paying a premium for consultants and expects an equally high level of competence.  When things go wrong, regardless of whose fault it is, clients will hold the consultants accountable.  This can range from being as subtle as asking them what their plan is to correct it, to a screaming fit of outrage .

If it occurs too often, the consultant may decide that they won’t work with such an abusive client.  But often times, all a consultant can do is take it.  Scapegoating comes along with the territory.

See my related post: Consulting Skill: Dealing with Criticism

If consultants want to make those high salaries they’re famous for, they need to have a thick enough skin to be able to take the heat that clients are capable of.

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
The Jimmy Buffett Approach to Career Management
For those old enough to remember Jimmy Buffett, but are unfamiliar with him, most would probably think he’s a washed up musician from the 70s who should probably be making ...
READ MORE
Are You Really Too Busy?
I didn’t get a chance to get to that. I’m so busy, it’s on my list, I’m just buried in work. I didn’t see that email in my overflowing inbox.  When did ...
READ MORE
How To Overcome Your Fear
Many people have an irrational fear lurking deep within them that limits their ability succeed.  Whether it’s fear of public speaking, confrontation or the ability to ask for the sale, ...
READ MORE
Consulting’s Three Headed Monster
A good consulting firm needs to be successful from three aspects: Delivery, Sales and Recruiting.  This is often considered the three-headed monster of consulting The three headed monster Delivery Delivery, the act of ...
READ MORE
Management Flexibility: That’s Not How I’d Do It
There is an age-old debate about how the toilet paper should roll for most efficient dispensing.  One school of thought says the paper should roll up from the bottom while ...
READ MORE
How to Differentiate with Your Personal Brand
There is a lot of talk today about personal branding.  The tools available are plentiful.  Social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and the up-and-coming Quora allow you to ...
READ MORE
Consulting Skill: Adaptability
Kodak was once a dominant player in the photography industry leading all players in the film and camera market by a seemingly insurmountable lead.  As digital photography – which they ...
READ MORE
My 5 Biggest Surprises from Consulting
I started as a Consultant right out of college.  I interviewed with several of the top firms but my grades weren’t good enough – and I probably interviewed horribly – ...
READ MORE
Reluctant Clients: Gaining Buy In
"We're from corporate and we're here to help." It's the common joke for anyone who works for a living; for anyone who feels they know their job and doesn't need high ...
READ MORE
The Best Route to Success – Incremental Gains
I remember an old cartoon of a reporter asking a famous star, "How do you account for your overnight success?" To which the star responded, "Twenty years of hard work." In ...
READ MORE
The Jimmy Buffett Approach to Career Management
Are You Really Too Busy?
How To Overcome Your Fear
Consulting’s Three Headed Monster
Management Flexibility: That’s Not How I’d Do It
How to Differentiate with Your Personal Brand
Consulting Skill: Adaptability
My 5 Biggest Surprises from Consulting
Reluctant Clients: Gaining Buy In
The Best Route to Success – Incremental Gains