Customer Options For Success

Being a good consulting customer boils down to the military’s mantra quote of Thomas Paine:

“Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.”

For that matter, it works for any customer of any service:

Option 1:  Lead

If you know what you are doing and you understand your process and systems thoroughly, then you should lead.  It is the best role.  You can give direction and take responsibility for outcomes.

If you only want to give direction without taking responsibility, then you qualify for Option 3.

Leading is for those who have vision, can articulate a strategy and have made it clear to the entire project team for implementation that success and failure will be upon your shoulders.

Option 2: Follow

Following means that you realize that someone else has the answers and is the expert.  You defer to their expertise so you can win.  It is the strategy to take when you want the expert to take responsibility and set the strategy.  You may have some of the vision, but getting to the goal is what the expert does.

As you follow, you become enlightened.  There is immense benefit.  We all need guides to places we have not been before.  If we lead when we are unqualified or for the ego trip, then relationships, the goal and the journey will be a failure.  Follow when you hire for expertise.  Hiring is not enough.

Option 3: Get The Hell Out Of The Way

If you are not qualified to lead and you don’t want to follow, then the best way to partner with a consultant is to get out of the way.  Give them space to help you.  Don’t add extra cycles from trying to control when you are not qualified.

You help the goal in this case by recognizing that you detract rather than add to the goal with your meddling.

What Are You About?

Typically, a customer is an excellent partner when they pick one of these options.  They are clear because they understand the nature of the partnership with their consultant.  They are about the goal and nothing less.

It’s your system.  Don’t jeopardize your success by playing the wrong role as a customer or doing none of them.  If you aren’t leading, following or getting out of the way, what are you doing?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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