Things You Can Learn From Management Consulting (and 3 Things You Can’t)
Management consulting is one of the most prestigious and rewarding professions in the world, and management consulting skills are usually very sought-after.
If you’re wondering whether or not it’s the right profession for you, then this article will certainly be useful.
You might have heard that consultants work long hours, travel to beautiful places, and earn a lot of money. But today, we’ll discuss the skills and lessons you can and cannot learn in management consulting.
Let’s begin with the exciting professional and life skills consulting teaches you.
What You Can Learn From Management Consulting
Living the consulting lifestyle will not only help you hone your management consulting skills, but it will also teach you lessons for your personal life. Here are some keys things that you will definitely learn as a management consultant if you stay the course:
- Problem solving:The issues that seem like difficult problems to others will seem like complex puzzles to you. The difference between seeing something as a problem versus seeing it as a puzzle is your mindset. Having an optimistic mindset towards complex issues is what you’ll learn from consulting.
- Communication skills: One of the major management consulting skills is your ability to communicate well. If you’re already skilled in communicating efficiently, then working as a management consultant will only take it to the next level.
- Attention to detail: Being a management consultant means that you’ll have a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders. This will teach you how to take every big as well as minuscule detail into account while making decisions.
- Boldness: Analyzing problems and offering recommendations is a big part of the consulting lifestyle. But you have to be bold enough to suggest the right solutions and influential enough to be taken seriously. You’ll learn how to get rid of the fear of appearing stupid and boldly speak your mind.
- Software, software, software: Times are changing and new software are emerging to make your life as a management consultant a heck of a lot easier - if you’re willing to learn how to use them. Whether it’s time tracking, project management, or CRM, there is a state-of-the-art software available for you to learn and leverage. We are a generation that grew up using computers, so learning new software is not a big deal, and it often only takes a few weeks to become highly proficient in using completely new software or any other digital tool.
- Time management: Management consulting is one of those professions in which deadlines are taken very, very seriously. Time management skills that you’ll learn from consulting will not only help you with your career, but will also be of great use in your personal life.
What You Can’t Learn From Management Consulting
Even though the consulting lifestyle will teach you a lot of important things, there are some areas where you may fall behind if you’re not mindful. Let’s discuss what they are.
- Leading a team of unmotivated subordinates: If you reach the position of project lead while working as a management consultant, you’ll likely lead a team of other super-motivated individuals who already have the right management consulting skills. Although it won’t be a walk in the park, leading a team of energetic and highly competent junior consultants will be relatively easy.
However, if you move to a different role or industry where you might need to lead a team in which members have average ambitions and a lower skill set, you will need to spend way more time and energy to ensure that everything gets done smoothly and on time. Sure, team leadership is something that you’ll likely learn from consulting, but the constitution of a team will most likely be different at another company or industry. This means that you will need to change your team leadership style and even prepare for a lot of new challenges if the team is not motivated and talented enough.
- Not sounding like a robot: Well, there’s nothing wrong with being logical and professional in your communications with C-level executives. In fact, it’s kind of a necessity for management consultants in the professional world - an unwritten rule that has to be followed. The nature of language that management consultants use is very professional, logical, and generally lacks sentiments. In short, working as a consultant for a very long time might make you sound like a robot. This means that you will have to learn how to not sound like a robot on your own - because management consulting won´t teach you that.
- Implementation and execution: Generally, for the most part, your job as a management consultant will be to study a problem, gather data, analyze it, and offer recommendations. However, actually implementing those recommendations will require a whole different skill set and human resources, which will give rise to new problems.
For example, if you recommend a retail giant to start an e-commerce store for their brand, it will take IT experts, web developers, graphic designers, copywriters, project managers, etc. to fulfill this task. As a management consultant, you might not be used to building an e-commerce site, even though the data and analysis show how important e-commerce stores are in this day and age. That’s why, sometimes, it could be a challenge for you to implement your own recommendations and turn them into reality. But don’t worry, there are other professionals who will handle it.
Management consulting skills are not just useful in the professional world, they can be applied to different aspects of one’s personal life as well. Management consulting can teach you how to manage time well, have a positive attitude towards problems, and be an eagle-eyed individual. It also teaches you how to communicate well, but you might want to learn how to add emotions to your day-to-day communications and not sound extremely professional all the time.
However, there are some skills that management consulting doesn’t teach you, such as how to manage unmotivated people because, generally, you’ll only have to lead highly enthusiastic junior consultants if you become a management consultant project lead. Last but not least, consulting also won’t teach you the nitty-gritty of implementation. But rest assured, you don’t have to do everything yourself. It’s okay not to be an expert in everything.