Growth is not static; it is an ever-changing dynamic in which one must sacrifice their ego in favor of beneficial criticism. Throughout the duration of this semester, I realized that although I understood the conceptual components of interacting with clients, I failed to understand the difference between theory and reality. As a planner, I assumed that the timeline we had originally set at the start was reasonable and would allow us to achieve each of our expectations. Yet, as the project progressed, I noticed that adjustments were necessary, and that the process of reorganizing one’s expectations is normal and should be expected in the field of consulting. As a result of this class and project, I gained a greater sense of the realities consultants face in their daily lives that allowed me to develop both academically and professionally; the lessons I have undergone as a result of this project have not only provided me short-term satisfaction but will also be utilized throughout the duration of my career.
Consulting often results in confusion, or so one would think given that clients are often unsure what they may want. But, this is to be anticipated and is a significant element of one’s role as a consultant: to identify what exactly the client needs in order to fulfill their request. Clients may ask for several different requests to be fulfilled whether it be operations, marketing, and so forth. And as consultants, our instinctive desire is to grant our clients wishes and reassure them that their problems will be resolved. However, the biggest lesson is understanding that one should communicate with the client and let them know what is and or is not reasonable given the timeframe. Being honest about which final deliverables will be accomplished is vital in establishing trust. As the project progressed, my team and I realized that defining the scope of our project and being transparent with what we can achieve displays maturity and a proper understanding of how to conduct business with a client. Expectations can be adjusted but failed promises will smite the reputation of one’s work.
But my experiences are not limited to only the professional realm; interpersonal connections are also just as crucial. Leadership does not equate to commanding. Rather, leadership equates to understanding. Often times leadership is portrayed as one person dictating roles and assignments as a way of establishing order. While this does provide some structure, it fails to create a sense of connection between the team which ultimately results in a lack of intrinsic motivation and is instead based upon an extrinsic fear. Thankfully, our team had no issues with such manners, but through this consulting experience, I realized the importance of commitment and quality. Our team communicated with each other the strengths and weaknesses we had. Not only was each person assigned sections where they felt knowledgable, we also taught each other in areas where one of us was lacking the skill. We developed our weaknesses to turn them into strengths, allowing us to not only grow professionally but also develop a greater respect for the ideas we shared.
As the project concluded, I realized that I was no longer the person at the beginning of the semester. I was more confident in myself and my ability to problem solve. Change itself is inevitable whether it be consulting or life in general; the sooner one learns how to adapt, the easier they will be at resolving the issues that arise. My growth occurred by being able to set proper expectations for the client but also through being able to create a positive dynamic with my team. I strongly hope and encourage that those who choose to take advantage of this class truly make the most of this wonderful opportunity. I certainly have and am incredibly grateful for the kindness from my peers and mentors, the wisdom that I have gained, and the experience that I will continue to treasure.