Many of us are consultants, supporting one or more customers.

So, I ask myself, “What does it take to be a great consultant?”

The role of a consultant is different from an internal facing employee, whose customers are often colleagues or those working within the same organization. However, the lines between these roles can be blurry.

There are many skills, traits, and behaviors making up a stand out consultant.(1) Some are learned or gleaned by experience; others are innate to the individual. As you read through the list of attributes, ask yourself – does it relate to my role and what I experience when working with customers? Some might be an area to consider for professional development.

Great consultants are flexible and easily adapt to new projects, work cultures, and colleagues. They fit in effortlessly and get the job done, while their soft skills and technical expertise allow them to succeed in roles quickly.

Great consultants work smart and are disciplined. Consultants know how to accomplish results in the shortest amount of time, with little friction. Great consultants are problem solvers, consistently finding successful solutions.

Great consultants are persistent and don’t give up. They accept push back, unforeseen circumstances, and negative feedback. They learn from it and move on – analyzing setbacks to prevent reoccurrence.

Great consultants are studious and never stop learning. They stay abreast of industry trends to provide innovative expertise.

Great consultants go further – seeing the big picture and intricate details, improving when needed. They bring a fresh perspective and insights, solving problems and boosting customer business.

Great consultants are sociable, listen first, and speak second. Their primary goal is to help other people and businesses. Great consultants build trust and rapport. They are committed to helping clients accomplish their goals.

Great consultants show professionalism – always maintaining a professional relationship with the customer. It is easy to become casual, but often, becoming too laid back can backfire and cause negative perceptions. Great consultants strike a balance between familiarity and professional demeanor.(2)

As you work with your customer in the consulting role, remember to exemplify those traits that come as second nature, as well as traits that might take a bit more focus. In the end, both sets of skills will put you on the road to being recognized as a great consultant!


Carol is a former Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with experience in the IT, Engineering /Operations support, market research, and manufacturing industries, both within private sector and the U.S. Federal healthcare management. She also has hands on experience managing with systems development lifecycle (SDLC), and engineering development lifecycle (EDLC), agile development and waterfall models.