Jethro (see Exodus 18) was an effective consultant because, in the end, he enabled Moses to discover and implement a positive solution to an obvious problem. The problem was real and urgent—Moses alone could not serve the scope of need represented by the nation. The solution was simple and doable—identify and appoint qualified leaders to assist with judging the issues that people were bringing. The process was agreeable and welcomed—both Moses and the people had their needs met in a way that seemed to satisfy everyone involved.
The effective consultant, who is able to influence positive change, must know—be—do certain things. By way of review, consider these questions from a different angle.
- Where can you contribute from experience and strength?
- When should you defer to another?
- How well do you really understand the context?
- How genuinely concerned are you for the best interest of another?
- What relational capital do you have or can you develop with another?
- How impartial can you be with the solutions offered?
- How well do you listen and observe?
- How frankly yet diplomatically can you speak into a situation?
- How articulately can you paint a picture of the solution?
- How long will you stay engaged to help see implementation occur?
These process-consulting principles can be fully applied in the home, in social circles or in the marketplace. A mother or school counselor can help a child develop a plan for higher education. A friend can help another with a job search. A consultant can help a supervisor determine a way forward through the complexities of business challenges.
How is a consultant different from a coach? The big differences are in the areas of personal expertise and experience. Consultants bring proven solutions to solving real problems; a coach brings a process of self-discovery to help a person get to a better place.
Unless “clients” learn to see problems for themselves and think through their own remedies, they will be less likely to implement the solution and less skilled to fix such problems should they reoccur. The ultimate function of process consulting is to pass on the skills of how to diagnose and constructively intervene so that clients are more able to continue on their own to bring improvement to individuals and organizations.
What value do you currently place on the consulting process? If time or cost is a concern, have you seriously considered the time and cost of forgoing the benefit of engaging a consultant? If finding a credible consultant is a concern, seek to clarify your need so you can inquire of who might have the needed expertise to help you find solutions. Far too often people live with problems that are solvable—like Moses trying to judge the entire nation by himself. Good stewardship demands finding our best solutions, which are often outside of ourselves.