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Personal Management Consulting Tools for the Independent Consultant

When I get asked about management consulting tools, I like to break the topic up into a couple of different categories. On one hand, you need to have tools that help you interact with others, listen to them and observe them from a unique perspective. On the other hand, you also require tools that help you work with the nuts and bolts of effective management consulting. I'll talk about those tools (analytics, reports, etc.) in my next blog post, but today, I want to tell you about the personal tools that you need to develop in order to have success in consulting.Personal Management Consulting Tools for the Independent Consultant

More Than Just a Cartoon

Working in an office environment, I have no doubt you've seen Dilbert cartoons posted on cubicle walls, bulletin boards and break-room refrigerators. For many people, these cartoons are simply something to give them a chuckle every now and again. For consultants, however, a Dilbert panel posted on a cubicle wall can convey a tremendous amount of information about a company, its culture and the people who show up to work there each day.

The ability to learn about a company from the cartoons and other materials posted by employees throughout the office is something that occurs when a consultant uses tools like EQ, observational power and listening skills.

Messages Surround Us

Messages exist everywhere within an office environment, and it's the consultant's job to listen to them. I train consultants to read those Dilbert cartoons because they're not just attempts to bring levity to the office; they're examples of employees trying to send a message.

For instance, if you're in an office where you see multiple Dilbert panels in which the boss is shown to be particularly inept, you might have some management issues on your hands. If you're seeing cartoon panels depicting the horrors of attending meetings, you might want to take a look at how management structures its meetings.

The Essential Personal Tools

Not everyone can take a look at a newspaper cartoon and find deeper meaning, which is why consultants need to work hard at developing certain management consulting tools. Here are some of the personal tools you will need as a consultant:

  • EQ

There are different types of intelligence beyond IQ. EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, is crucial to success in consulting. Your ability to understand not only your own mood, but the moods of others is determined by your EQ. Thankfully, EQ is a type of intelligence that can be developed and improved over time as long as you are willing to work on it. Doing so will make you much more effective as a consultant because it will give you the power to evaluate the moods and emotions of the people with whom you interact in an organization.

  • Observational Power

I can't stress enough the fact that everything is a message. Being able to see the messages behind seemingly innocuous items like Dilbert cartoons on cubicle walls comes from your observational power. Take some time to develop this tool, and you'll be able to impress your clients with an ability to quickly and accurately gain a sense of an organization's culture and morale.

  • Listening Skills

A lot of people are great talkers. Not many people are great listeners, though. Communication is a two-way street, so if you aren't paying attention to what's being said, you won't be able to convey your perspective effectively. Work on being an active listener, and you'll find that people will respond much more positively to your message. Also remember that you should be listening at all times; you never know when someone will let a nugget of truth slip out.

  • Feedback

Finally, one of the most important management consultant tools is a system that allows you to get feedback from as many stakeholders as possible. Personal development is an ongoing process, and having access to various assessment tools can help you maximize your growth. Without good feedback from a number of sources, the other tools in your toolbox will fail to help you succeed.


If you'd like to learn more about the management consulting tools discussed in this post, the Ex3 Matters website is loaded with information that can help you add value to your toolbox. For even more information, download our free consulting guides and Buddy Hobart's free eBook, “Experience Matters.”