Trusted Advisor vs. Consultant
At DiversiPro, we often tell our clients we want to be their “trusted advisors” rather than “consultants”. The distinction between these two is quite significant and worth considering as we go about doing our work of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Anti-racism (IDEA) in helping to co-create inclusive, equitable and diverse spaces through transformative systemic change.
A trusted advisor goes above and beyond to add value based on a relationship of mutual trust; a trusted advisor understands the client’s needs and priorities better than any other competitor.
According to David Butter, an analyst of politics, economics and business in the Middle East North Africa region, becoming a client’s trusted advisor takes time. It is critical to develop strong empathy and listening skills. It’s not just about delivering KPIs. A trusted advisor becomes a KPI (Key Person of Interest).
The trusted advisor places a higher value on developing and preserving the relationship with a client than on the outcomes of the current project. This sometimes means making a substantial investment in the client or prospective client (without a guarantee of return) before the relationship even generates any income.
That’s one reason we spend so much time engaging with a new client as part of our intake process. The downside of this is that we work a bit harder as several iterations of the scope of work emerge. The upside is that the client experiences DiversiPro in a way they may not have experienced another DEI firm and often, we get the work.
Focusing on the client rather than on ourselves means we have the self-confidence to listen without pre-judging; we are curious and willing to see the client as co-equal in a journey together.
It is also important to remember to focus on the definition of the problem – asking “What problem are you trying to solve?” “If we were successful in this initiative, what would your organization look like?” – rather than just the technicalities, although those too are important.
At DiversiPro we know there is a difference between business life and a private life, but both are uniquely personal (and human). How we deal with people is critical. In doing the work of IDEA, these two lives will intersect. A trusted advisor is mindful of this.
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