As a consultant, what are the top 2 skills you need to develop to be successful moving forward? There are plenty of skills required, many unnamed even. Yet two key skills come to mind right-off: being an Assembler and the ability to Execute.
An assembler, or integrator, is a somewhat rare breed. This person is often an industry-focused generalist. He or she understands how all the core components work together, the skillsets required, some level of technical proficiency, and how to build team(s) as required.
In my space, software, it is very common to have highly specialized, certified individuals creating very complex—tactical—deliverables. It is reflective of many companies themselves. Focused on quick ramp-up, rushing to deliver on the next thing at the end of their nose, they will struggle to grow beyond their original objective.
The assembler is the person who can see a vision for putting disparate pieces together, understanding how they might plug-in, and if they don’t, what can be developed for a reasonable expenditure of resource. Assemblers are often the pointy end of the spear when it comes to acquisition assessments and integrations.
Ok, so you say you see these people already. Yes, they exist. No question. But as we continue this frenzied approach today, we are going to need ever more of them. Many people ‘truly’ understand 1 or 2 sides of the iron triangle. Assemblers truly understand all 3.
Execution. There are endless books on the topic. There are endless Catch-22 discussions, which is more important: Strategy or Execution? Strategy is important—it sets direction. Without direction, execution is squandered. However, the world’s best strategy is worthless if you do nothing with it.
Unfortunately consultants, particularly in the management space, have garnered the reputation of developing great strategies. And then going home. I have plenty of my own three-ring binders thank you very much. What I need, what clients need, is help executing on those pretty strategies.
The challenge, the art, the skill comes in doing this with resources that do not report to you. Unlike a large services firm, small (particularly independent) consultants do not have an army of college grads to deploy to get things done. All the expected interpersonal skills come to bear. It is the ultimate in getting things done through others.