It is very fun and easy to pick on consultants. They show up, charge us to tell us about our problems and then charge us more to fix them.

While the animosity may be rooted in our envy of that savvy business model, there are things we can all learn from the consultative approach. Here are three consulting practices leaders should adopt.


Many consulting firms work under the premise that it is better to keep a client than find a new one. While we are willing to accept this approach with customers and employees, as employers, many of us balk at the idea of partnering with a consulting firm for a long time.

Yet, most firms find a way to deepen and extend their relationships with their clients. What is it about those relationships that keeps the client coming back?

Having worked on both sides, one common thread was the ability of the consultants to consistently provide tangible deliverables. Few employers hold their employees as instantly accountable as they do their consultants. Consultants know this and, as such, create clear expectations, communicate openly and deliver accordingly.

As leaders, we can both strive to develop that type of relationship with our team and practice that approach to deliverables.


Understanding the office landscape and navigating it to their advantage is another key skill of successful consultants. In fact, after confirming the client can actually pay the bills, the next steps of savvy consultants are to assess the bigger picture of who can impact or detract from their success.

As leaders, we are (hopefully!) already keenly aware of the players in our sphere. However, we do not always prioritize the care and feeding of those relationships.

Instead, we spend our time articulating what is on the horizon, keeping our team on track or addressing those squeaky wheels.

Conversely, consultants keep those important relationships front of mind to ensure key players are aware of their contributions, value and impact on future success. To adopt this philosophy, we as leaders can invest time in whatever we are not already doing.

In other words, if we are constantly spending time with our squeaky wheels, we should adjust course to spend more time with our high performers. Instead of neglecting our strong relationships because we know they are healthy, we should prioritize those colleagues as partners in our success.


Finally, consultants know their audience. From the length of a PowerPoint deck to a keen appreciation of the priorities and idiosyncrasies of the executive team, successful consultants know how to present their idea for the most impact and success.

They also understand how acknowledging the little things conveys an attention to detail that leaders appreciate. Again, these are skills we all likely possess but do not prioritize to the same extent as our external advisors.

The bottom line is we can increase tangible deliverables, positively impact the productivity and strength of our relationships, and improve our standing with those above us by mining our skill sets and borrowing a few practices from consultants.