Alex Sillman, a BlueSky Search Executive, provides his take on what makes a great consultant.  The mastery of these skills can help all of us as we develop our careers and help grow our respective businesses.

Bookwith BizSymbolsBased on my experience, any good management consultant must have these five core skills and capabilities.  Individuals may have strengths in one or more areas, but rock star consultants outshine even their most talented colleagues along all of these dimensions.  To be successful, you can focus on becoming truly distinctive in your strengths and address your weaknesses.  Your clients, firms, and recruiters like me will be able to evaluate your talents and recognize these traits shining through.


Why it’s important:  Building a credible fact-base solution or plan often requires analyzing and making sense out of a large amount of data or disparate information.  Also, deliverables often include models that the client will use after a project.

What excellence looks like:

  • Ability to identify, prioritize and focus on the information, data, and analyses that will generate the greatest impact
  • Ability to use data and information to get to the root cause of problems and demonstrate positive outcomes
  • Skills and proficiency working with numbers and models to capture the implications of data on the problem at hand


Why it’s important:  Consulting recommendations and insights are only helpful to clients if they are communicated in a clear and compelling way.  Consultants can only glean the right information and identify problems by asking the right questions.

What excellence looks like:

  • Understanding of stakeholder needs and how to make topics relevant to them
  • Ability to synthesize large amounts of information and highlight the key takeaways
  • Crafting storylines that drive understanding and acceptance


Why it’s important:  Clients hire management consultants to help solve their most pressing business issues, but no one person can answer all the problems. Collaboration with the client and your team will ensure the greatest range of and most applicable solutions are identified.

What excellence looks like:

  • Extensive creativity, insight, and content knowledge to find the source of the best possible answers
  • Ability to work collaboratively with colleagues and clients to generate buy-in
  • Leveraging all available resources and expertise and incorporating them into solutions


Why it’s important:  Your goal should be to become the trusted advisor for your clients, not just to create deliverables.  Getting clients and your team actively engaged during the project increases the likelihood of buy-in, impact, and success.

What excellence looks like:

  • High emotional IQ and ability to empathize with and relate to clients at all levels of an organization
  • Genuine interest and investment in clients’ long-term success
  • Professionalism, confidence, and poise that build credibility with your clients and your team


Why it’s important:  Consultants are expected to deliver significant value in a short amount of time.  Timelines are often compressed so your ability to make good decisions and prioritize the use of your time and other resources is critical.

What excellence looks like:

  • Talent for multitasking and driving impact across multiple work streams
  • Efficiency and able to prioritize and focus on the highest-value tasks
  • Commitment to getting the job done no matter how difficult