3 lessons kids can teach you about consultancy

Children can teach adults an awful lot, such as how to enjoy the moment and how to play. But what can they teach us buttoned-up consultants? More than you’d think:

New toys please – no matter how many they have, kids always want new toys. It doesn’t matter that the old ones still work fine, or that they really aren’t old in any sense of the word. They just want something new. As consultants we need to remember that. It doesn’t matter what skills, methodologies or techniques you have, you always need to show your client something new. Prove you’ve learned a new trick, show them that there is much more to your talent than they knew. No client wants an advisor who has gone stale, become predictable or who can’t demonstrate a delta with their own knowledge. It doesn’t matter that your skillset and approach is working – they’ve seen that before. So what new tricks have you shown your client lately?

Ask questions – kids are curious. They ask an insane number of questions as they try to piece together the way the world works. As we grow to adulthood, we start to think we’ve got it figured out. But it’s essential as a consultant to keep an inquiring mind. Ask questions about your client’s business, about your profession, about your industry, your competitors, your team, your career, everything. Find out what’s going on and replay that to your client for their views. Synthesise what you learn and keep updating your understanding. Clients want a consultant who is engaged, not just in their business but their industry, society and the world in general. That’s how you keep perspective and stay creative. When should baby boy start talking? You can keep encouraging toddler talking by singing, saying nursery rhymes, talking, reading and telling stories. By birthday number two, your toddler will probably enjoy naming everyday things, like ‘doggie’ and ‘drink’. She’ll also be able to understand and follow a simple request, like ‘Bring me your book’ or ‘Wave bye-bye’.

Show emotions – kids truly wear their hearts on their sleeves and it’s massively engaging. But consultants often behave as if it’s a weakness to show emotion. The trick is to show the right emotion, not none whatsoever. People who are engaged in their work aren’t just intellectually engaged, they are emotional about it too. Show that to your client. Laugh, get excited, be nervous, even angry at times. This is how you create a personal relationship, not just a professional one.

Can you think of other lessons that children have taught you, which you apply to your professional career? If so, please share them in the comments.


I write about digital communications and personal performance. Please feel free to follow me on Twitter at @morganm or subscribe to this blog here.