Beyond Business as Usual

What does being professional mean? I’ve been wondering about that, especially around the realm of the work of consultancy. What does this entail when offering services, especially around individual and organizational development and change (through training, facilitation and coaching)? This question could apply to so many professionals in other fields too. 

Conventionally, I notice that professionalism involves a mastery of one’s subject and one’s field. It also entails delivering the service for the client, while maintaining a positive and fruitful relationship with the client throughout the contract.

But perhaps being professional of change entails much more, and I am learning that the following points, crafted by my colleagues, can be useful to so many others. To truly create solutions with the client, professionalism may also require the consultant to display the following:

  1. Qualities of a great, professional consultant:
    1. Having the habit of ongoing self-examination, and asking oneself, on a daily level, whether one is living the principles and values required to deliver great work for the consultant.
    2. Being self-correcting, that is, having the capacity to observe the inconsistencies between what we are committed to, and their actions. Are they able to question the authenticity of the commitment in the job, and correct their course of action accordingly?
    3. Being self-generating: are they having the ability to renew and improve themselves by proactively requesting support and working on what is missing in themselves?   And this requires the realization that the development of competence is not a final end state, but a continuous process of learning and discovery.
  2. Capacities when relating to the client: when working with the client, a professional consultant brings themselves to the client fully, and this requires listening deeply, to cultivate a deep relationship with mutual trust, respect and freedom of expression, and:
  1. Evoking excellence in the client’s organization. This may require creating a context for positive change to happen, where the development of staff can happen,
  2. Inspiring the client to connect and reconnect to their commitment, and provide them with practices to stay productive and in action, even when challenges emerge,
  3. Having an ongoing curiosity about what it takes to support people’s development.

The above can be useful reminders, or items to put on a check-list, to strive to be better consultants everyday, enabling teams and organizations to generate desired results, beyond ‘business as usual’. And ultimately, this enables one to continue learning with the client.

I personally find striving to be such a professional as a challenge, a practice, and ever so enjoyable when the client is satisfied and feels empowered to create more, and produce more positive results.

What are your experiences around developing yourself to be a better professional? I’d love to know.

Many thanks to Tong Schraa-Liu of  TSLP for having contributed so much to develop such insights and wisdom on what it may mean to fully serve individuals and organizations striving for positive change and transformation.

Image: Anonymous Art of Revolution.