A Consultant Journal – Lessons From The Field, Part Two

What is the role of a transformational consultant and coach?
We help the client to transform and improve their condition. We design a process and create an experience that helps leaders grow and realize their vision.

What is the most important competency to do this work?
I believe it is the ability to learn – learn-ability. I learn so much from the people I work with that it’s thrilling. What can be better than to be paid good money to continually learn fascinating stuff?

Here are lessons captured in the field.

1. You cannot hide behind a framework. The people show up for the session to meet you, not your brilliant framework.
2. You have to earn their respect. Never assume people’s respect is a given. If you worked with a group last year and it was successful and they liked their experience they will come and give you the benefit of showing up and being ready and open. You will then need to earn their respect all over again. They need to find a new updated reason why they are giving you their money, time and attention.
3. You earn their respect when they see that you are making an effort and that you care. You earn their trust when your efforts and care help them improve.

How do your efforts and care make a difference?
4. First, the participants see you make the effort to understand their situation and the challenges they are facing and that you care enough to try to understand and appreciate their culture and beliefs.
5. Second, they feel your efforts to come from your own personal insights, your willingness to risk trusting them with your journey, with your thought process with its struggles and discoveries. To trust the process of a transformational change in themselves, they look to see that you are ready to share your own transformation.
6. They can feel your genuine effort both when you are making the journey to understand them (item 4) and when you make the journey into yourself with the excitement and passion as though it were newly discovered (item 5).
7. What do you do if it is lunch time and you have not yet “clicked”, you have not been able to connect with the group? Find the one person you feel you can connect with and have lunch with that person. Work into a meaningful conversation with this one person. Help that person to help you connect. They will lead you to get through to the rest of the group.
8. Projection is everything and at the same time the biggest blockage you face. You project what you hope the participants will discover, how they will feel, the benefits and value they will receive. You make projections about the program and how it will unfold. And then you turn up and you must be ready to put it all aside. You show up with the “table of plenty” you have prepared but you have to be free at the point to discover the need and the way of it and be flexible enough to adjust to what is needed.
9. You must find a fresh interest and enthusiasm for this seminar for yourself. You may have talked about this subject and done this particular format 40 times but the audience is hearing it for the first time. You must be freshly interested in it yourself. If you are bored they will be bored. Your own interest in what you are discovering in the process is the life blood, the vital plasma of the engagement.
10. This meeting, this seminar, this engagement happens only once. It will never happen again. You will never be exactly in the same place, with exactly the same people at exactly the same time. It’s a once-in-the-history-of-the-galaxy event. Make it count. Make it count for you. Make it count for them.

© Aviv Shahar

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