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What are the Personality Traits of a Successful Consultant? Part 2

Have you read Part 1 yet? If not, start here!

This is Part 2 of an ongoing series covering the ins and outs of a second career in consulting after serving with the US military/federal government.

Do you have the personality traits of a successful consultant? Let's explore this question together...with one important caveat: You don't need to posses every trait on the list in equal measure...or even at all. Here at Focusing Forward, we want to help you capitalize on your strengths and grow in areas that don't come quite as naturally to you.


Personality Traits of a Successful Consultant:

· Trustworthy, reliable. You don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. To the best of your ability, you do exactly what you say you’ll do, when and how you say you’ll do it. Friends and family know they can rely on you.

· Good listener. In conversations, others feel heard and understood by you. You're comfortable with listening more than you speak, and it is always clear that you are actively engaged in the conversation.

· Analytical, creative problem-solver. Puzzles are fun for you! You connect the dots where others cannot, which leads you to inventive and surprising solutions to problems. People consider you a natural mediator because of your ability to remain objective and synthesize multiple perspectives simultaneously.

· Curious nature. Part of you wishes you could be a student forever. Pat answers don't do it for you; you've always got a follow-up question or twenty. When you meet an expert in a topic you love, your first instinct is to pick their brain.

· People-oriented. You enjoy working with people (at least sometimes), and know how to be a solid team player. Though making new connections thrills you, you also nurture and sustain relationships for the long haul.

· Patient, level-headed. No matter how long the to-do list or how chaotic the schedule, you stay focused and keep emotions in check. When work or home life feels overwhelming, you find ways to mitigate stress before it becomes a problem. Even in the presence of coworkers who seem bent on pushing your buttons, your professionalism never wavers.

· Attentive to detail. You might be a bit of a perfectionist. The thought of sending an error-riddled email to a client gives you the shivers. You'd rather take the time to double-check your work than to finish up a few minutes earlier.

· Critical thinker, big-picture thinker. People describe you as logical and open-minded because you don't default to the simplest answer. You place a high value on being reasonable, fair, and analytical. When presented with a multi-faceted problem, you find a way to synthesize and order the information so that you can formulate an actionable solution.

· Empathy. People feel safe with you, even in vulnerable situations, because they feel that you understand their problems and genuinely want to help them.

· Good communicator. You can articulate your thoughts effectively, no matter the size of your audience. You also listen and respond with appropriate, actionable feedback (even when it’s uncomfortable). People listen to you because you speak with authority, empathy, and clarity, and can help them understand complex ideas. You are direct, personable, polite, and professional.

· Self-motivated. You don’t need (or even want) a boss to tell you what to do because you have self-motivation in spades. Sure, you can take direction, but you don't require it. You'd rather create your own schedule than have one imposed on you. Working solo is ok with you.

· Confident. You’re comfortable advocating for yourself and your work. Because you truly believe in your work, others do too. You're not cocky - you just know your strengths and weaknesses.

· Wise with resources. You budget your money, time, energy, and engagements very carefully. You don't make commitments - be they financial, contractual, or otherwise - without considering the potential impact on all aspects of your life.

· Firm on boundaries. People would describe you as a highly principled person. You instinctively know if an opportunity or situation isn't right for you, and you have no problem delivering a graceful NO when necessary. You can separate your emotions, responsibilities, and life from those of the people around you.

· Humble. You know you don't know it all, so you seek help when needed; be it through peer counsel, a google search, or a paid course. Colleagues feel that you respect their ideas as much as your own.

· Flexible mindset. Though you stay true to yourself and your goals, you know how to go with the flow. You embrace new circumstances and demands without resistance by finding ways to adapt and grow.

· Business-minded: You're as much an idea person as you are an action person. When you have a clear goal, you figure out how to achieve it. You're probably fond of lists, budgets, spreadsheets, goal-mapping, and brainstorming. It's natural for you to see the potential in everyone and everything.

· Highly specialized. You like being the go-to person in your specific arena (a.k.a that subject you could give a Ted talk on). People with less knowledge on this topic come to you first for insight and advice. You'd rather be deeply knowledgable in this one area of expertise than be a jack-of-all-trades.

*Tip: If you find it difficult to assess yourself, give this list to someone who knows you well and ask them for their honest assessment. This is especially helpful if you tend to be a rather self-critical person.


Thanks for reading! In Part 3 we will delve into the nitty gritty of being self-employed and learn what it takes to set up a successful consulting businesses.

Know someone else who should read this series? If you found this information helpful and think that others could benefit from it too, please consider sharing this post on social media, commenting, liking, and/or forwarding it to a friend. Thanks!


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