What does it take to be a great consultant?

I am often asked about how I got into the consulting business, and what steps someone should take if they want to become a consultant.

A great consultant is more than just a professional person with the technical skills required to solve a particular problem. More than just a rainmaker, problem solver or networker.

So what does it take to make a great consultant? While not comprehensive, the following list is a good starting point:

  • Shared values: Common value framework between yourself, your client and your associates (and supported by your partner, family and personal community)
  • Integrity: Managing your business and personal affairs with impeccable integrity ensuring trust and genuine rapport
  • Natural inquisitiveness: Innate desire to understand issues, motivations, obstacles etc.
  • Needs analysis: The ability to ask good quality questions and the ability to prioritise the issues in order of importance, cost/impact, capacity to achieve etc.
  • Love of solving puzzles: In addition to the desire to understand issues, a deep-seated desire to dive into challenging situations, deal with uncertainty, fix and improve things
  • Estimating: The ability to properly scope the size of a problem and the scale of effort required to solve the problem
  • Negotiation and self-belief: I placed these two together as you need to be able to negotiate the appropriate payment for your efforts based on the value you bring, not how much budget the client has or how quickly they want it done
  • Time and project management skills: The ability to make sure things get done on time, on budget and above standard
  • Networking and business building: properly leveraging your network (including online and professional networks such as LinkedIn) to maximise business opportunities

Let me know what you would add to the list.


Michael Field, Managing Director for Michael Field Pty Ltd.