As a consultant, there is a litany of expectations that you may need to meet at any given point of time. You may have to wear many hats. This is because consulting firms not just need people who can do the work for them, but they must also possess the ability to develop and lead a team that can drive projects to success. That’s not all. You must be a person who can build and maintain an excellent relationship with the client.
So, one must be ready to walk a tightrope between pleasing the client and motivating the team of consultants to achieve success. But, one thing is for sure, you must have a strong and loyal consulting team by your side while you put your heart and soul into building your client portfolio.
So, how can you ensure to have such a consulting team? Well, leading a strong and successful team requires you to master these tasks:
- Be the target setter and the navigator: As the leader of a consulting team, you must be able to set clear targets for the team. Besides, you must be able to navigate the team by helping them chalk out a plan for reaching the target.
- Leverage the strengths: The success of your project depends on people with different skills to work together. As a leader, you have to be good at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each of your team member. Once identified, you must know how to leverage the strength of each team member and allocate the work accordingly. Putting the right person in the right job is the first and most important step towards success.
- Enable your team to deliver: A successful leader does not just set targets and prepare plans. To build a strong team, you must devote your time and energy to facilitate your team to deliver. Enable them not just with resources but also create a bond within the team to build and nurture an atmosphere of trust. A team that is well equipped with resources and has a high level of trust among its members has significantly more chances of delivering successful projects.
- Identify and develop skills: Every member of your team may not have the desired skill level . So, as a leader, you must identify the skill gaps within your team. You must help the team members who lack the skills to develop themselves to reach the required level. Be a coach and train or ask them to join relevant development programs. Also, while identifying the skill gaps, don’t just focus on the technical or managerial skills. Soft skills are equally important for your overall success.
- Resolve conflicts: No matter how much you want to avoid, your team is bound to have conflicts. Plus, you may have issues with other stakeholders as well. For example, one of your capable team members may be required elsewhere and you may have a conflict with those who want him or her to reallocate. Whatever the case, you must be able to handle any internal and external conflicts. You should resolve them before they grow big and damage your team or diminish the chances of your success.
- Leave room for disagreements:A good team leader always allow disagreements within the team. Disagreements are bound to happen within high-performing teams. The leader should make sure that the team members feel comfortable while challenging others. At the same time, they should not feel threatened if they are challenged by others. However, the team leader has to resolve them proactively if these disagreements turn into conflicts. Another good practice is to praise good work. Overall, for a team to perform at its best, all the kinds of feedback must be encouraged and analysed – both praises as well as critiques.
- Keep your team motivated: One of the most important roles that you need to play is of a motivator for your team. It does not matter how capable is your team, if the team members are not motivated to work, your chances of success are bleak. The motivation that works for one member may not work for the other. Getting interesting work may motivate one member of the team but others may require some other form of motivation. So, your job is to intentionally identify the individual motivators for each team member and use them to ensure success.
- Understand your dual leadership partner: Many consulting firms resort to two leaders to handle a project efficiently. For example, one leader with expertise focuses on the technical /domain-specific aspects while the other one focuses on the day-to-day managerial requirements of the project. So, if your consulting firm requires you to work with a partner, then you must give some time to understand he or she operates, and build a strong working relationship. A good rapport with your partner means unambiguous instructions to your team and more coordinated efforts.
- Be strategic thinkers: As a leader of the consulting team, you must be able to focus on the system as a whole. Besides, you must consider the interconnections and interdependencies and take the decisions accordingly. Leaders who are strategic thinkers make sure that the solutions they provide to their team are applicable today and are also relevant in the future.
- Solve problems analytically: Consulting requires you to carry out in-depth analysis and number crunching. Your team may approach you with a variety of issues. You must be able to help them out by analyzing the problem, finding the root cause, and presenting a practical solution. Besides, you should be able to digest large chunks of information, take decisions quickly, and communicate your decisions clearly to your team.
- Have flexibility: You may have set the targets and ways to achieve them. However, in the real world, it is difficult to have a clearly defined objective and a realistic length of time to complete the project. The work of a consulting team rarely have well-defined boundaries. Plus, the work may evolve over a period based on the availability and capability of the resources. In such cases, the leader of the consulting team must have the ability to make sense of the complex and challenging requirements and find a way to meet unrealistic timelines. As a leader, it is best if you can have flexibility in your strategy in terms of team resources, capabilities as well as timelines to accommodate the changing situations.
- Review work frequently: You have identified team members, built a team, set targets, allocated work, and defined timelines. Now you need a formal approach to make sure that your team’s work is on track. With evolving project requirements and moving targets and resources, it makes sense to take a step back and review how your team is working. It’s essential that you carry out reviews regularly and see how you can improve your process. This way, you will be able to identify issues before they can do any further damage and set your team up for success.
Your team’s performance is directly linked to how well you lead and manage them. Master the above-mentioned tasks to get a high performing team.