hi everyone welcome to FIRMSconsulting Channel. it’s Kris. today we’re going to talk about how do you
manage your image if you’re working for a large management consulting firm and
this advice will also be applicable to other places like for example you if you
work for a large bank or you work for a start-up but I will primarily focus on
how it is applicable to management consulting. Many things matter to make
it in consulting determination knowledge especially as you move up the ranks time
management ability to manage relationships especially with clients
but I think that managing your image is something that you also cannot neglect
and this is actually something that you have a lot of control over. Building a
successful career of a management consultant requires you to position
yourself in the right way and I remember when I was joining major consulting
firms that I worked for when you join you have conversations with a lot of
people people approaching you and asking you questions about your background and
they asking you how long do you plan to stay within the firm what are your
long-term plans and it’s very important to position you in those conversations
in the right way so the first advice I would like to give you on how to create
the right image within a management consulting firm especially when you just
joined is to position yourself as somebody who is following a partner
track so basically position yourself as a person who does plan to try to make it
to partner level someone who sees a long term career within the firm even if you
are not certain that management consultant is the right career for you
and if you are thinking about maybe you will be leaving within a year I still do
not recommend to share this information. instead what they recommend to say is
something along the lines of look my goal is to realize my potential and make
a big impact in the world and I hope that is your goal and this organization
seems to be a right fit to help me do that
becoming a partner within the management consulting is certainly not completely
in your control but you need to show a commitment to do that and this is very
important to say because everything you say may get back to senior people and
those people are still considering if you are hiring mistake or a partner
material. if you are not committed to become a partner one day or at least
stick around for a few years then you’re not positioning yourself as somebody who
is important for the future of the firm. you have to be careful here of course
you don’t want to lie but you also don’t need to tell them everything. you can say
what I recommended that you would like to realize your potential you would like
to make an impact you would like to solve difficult problems in the world
and it feels like the right place for you to do that and this is not a lie
this is most likely aligned with what you really believe you’re just not
telling them the entire truth that you’re not sure that this is at the
right place and you are testing it out and so on they don’t need to know this
information. and you may be thinking okay this is applicable when I’m speaking to
superiors but I can say what I really think when I speak to my peers. and you
need to keep in mind that consulting is all about up and out. so if you are not
promoted at the valuation times you will be managed out of the firm. and as much
as I really enjoy collaborating with people and working with people
unfortunately in consulting similar to the experience you will have if you ever
go through an MBA or if you already went through an MBA you are really competing with people
at your level and there’s nothing you can do about it it’s a difficult balance
you have to be collegial you have to be helpful but you also have to remember
that you are a threat you are competition and often you have to be protecting
yourself and play to win instead of releasing information that can come back
and really hurt you. the second advice I would like to give you is that assume
that everything you say will be shared and I know that you wish that it wasn’t
the case but it is the case right you share information with people and they
sometimes let you down. never say anything negative about the client about
your superiors about your peers be very positive be very collegial very helpful
and remember that everything you say likely will be used against you
at some point so just be very very careful what you say and even if you
think you can trust somebody they may mention it to somebody by mistake or
they may be thinking that they’re helping and it can come back and really
hurt you. so let me give you a very good example
from my personal experience. when I was working in banking I was invited by one
of my colleagues to go for coffee and we were talking and he was telling me how
much he hates his job and he’d been in this job for decades and he really hates
it. he was just really sharing with me his unhappiness with the culture, with superiors, how things are managed and he really wanted to leave his
role and to leave the organization and maybe to empathize with him maybe, maybe to be
kind to him I did shared with him that I also don’t feel very comfortable with
the culture I don’t feel very comfortable with how things are managed
and what is valued so I shared with him a little bit of some of my concerns
about the situation and what happened after that is really a little ridiculous
but you will be surprised how often people behave in a ridiculous way. so I
would be sitting at my desk and repeatedly he will come to me and I’m
working in a huge open space with all my superiors and colleagues around me. he will
come to me and say Kris, hi! so how things are going is cultures
getting better, are you feeling a little happier about your job, do you want to
leave or did you decide to stay? and things like that and obviously this is
very very negative for me I cannot afford for people around me to hear this
kind of information which I shared with him in private and I told him I’m
sharing it with you as a friend in private please keep it between us. and I
was sharing it with him after he shared it with me and you know when he did that
I never actually hit him back and said oh well hello you the one who was
unhappy about this place I was just supporting you during our
conversation because I’m not that kind of person but nevertheless
multiple times he would come to me this way in the future when I would see him
coming my way I would just leave the desk because I know what is coming I
don’t know what was going on I don’t know if he was doing it on purpose or if
he really didn’t understood what was going on maybe he was really trying very
hard to be my friend and he thought that was supportive but ridiculous things
like that happened and this was somebody who who is at a very senior level
vice-president within a major bank and this kind of behavior very poor judgment
or just malicious intent so my recommendation apart from a very
close circle of your closest family and friends your spouse maybe your girlfriend
or boyfriend if you are really close and you trust this person with your life apart
from that little circle you do not share information about your superior that you
don’t like the client that is very difficult and you just cannot handle
them anymore you really want to go to another project or a peer that is always
taking credit for your work yes it’s very negative but you have to play a
long game you have to appear collegial you have to appear helpful
and fortunately in consulting as I mentioned in one of the other videos you
are kind of protected from people taking credit for your work because you work
with so many people that if you’re good people will know you are good and when
people are taking credit for someone’s work usually it somehow comes out and
the person looks really really bad. number three let’s call it mindset of a
leader. I would like to talk about what you should be focusing on what you
should be saying it is crucially important to think and talk like we need
this much as you possibly can it is vital to act like you are one or two
levels up. for example if you are currently a consultant you want to act
as a senior consultant if you’re a senior consultant you need to start
acting like an engagement manager so observe figure out what are the
responsibilities what is behavior of someone at the next level what is the
results that they deliver and then try to deliver at the next level obviously
do your job that is expected of you but also deliver at the next level so for
example if your peers are talking about the client that they really don’t like
ask yourself is the leader of the firm will be complaining to junior employees
about a difficult client that they have? see yourself already see yourself right
now as a person who is more senior that than your peers that are complaining
about the client and behave that way position yourself as a strong leader who
inspires employees who represents the firm well in front of the clients in
front of employees in front of the world and who is always looking out for the
long-term success of the company if you want to become a senior leader within
the firm you need to start establishing the foundation now as a strong leader
and act already now as someone at a more senior level and positioning yourself as
someone at the next level also helps you didn’t evaluations of your performance
because to get promoted you need to perform at the next level so it is the
only way for you to succeed in consulting you really need to always try
to perform at the next level as soon as you get promoted from business analyst
to consultant you start forcing yourself to perform at the senior consultant
level and as soon as you get promoted to senior consultant then you position
yourself as a manager as an engagement manager and so on
always always perform act behave as the person at the next level
management consultant is very competitive so you’re competing with all
your peers and who do you think will get that next promotion somebody who is
friends with their peers and one of the guys and they go together and drink in bars
or somebody who is performing at the next level very reliable always overdelivers, extremely focused clients love him or her because they’re always over
deliver they know the project inside and out. they know
everything about the analysis they have done they keep everything together, they
are organized and they really really focused and perform at the next level
and over delivering. and what may help you to get motivated is to remember that
in consulting if you are not being promoted
you are managed out as a hiring mistake. And I’m not saying that you need to be
unfriendly and helpful I’m saying that you need to be very friendly very
collegial very helpful very reliable but you need to remember that it’s a very
competitive environment and only few people will win within that environment
and you need to play to win you need to focus on performing at the
next level and always over delivering at that next level and behaving as a person
at that next level and then you should be able to go up and up and up within
the organization. number four be confident but humble another area that I
think you should focus on is to always remain humble do not allow hubris do
not allow any arrogance always remain very humble and very calm and just focus
on out performing, under promising over delivering performing at the next level
over delivering at the next level and just being very reliable there’s a
very famous saying in Japan that even monkeys fall off trees. well think about
it people fall off trees because we’re not
supposed to be climbing trees but monkeys they’re very good at climbing
trees but even they fall so no matter how good you are you may fall and then
if you were mocking people because you’re so good and they so bad if you
were arrogant then people will be much less forgiving of it management
consulting firms have different cultures some are a little bit more arrogant than
others but remember that even people who are arrogant they do not like arrogance
in other people. and another important thing to remember is partners are the
ones who decide if you’re going to be moving up and up and up or pushed out of
the firm very fast and what partners are looking for they’re not looking for
controversial people they’re not looking for arrogant people the agenda that we
come to when we working with clients is already controversial we have to make
important changes solve important problems some of the people within the
client organization get displaced they lose some of the decision power and
prominence that they used to have within the organization so consulting firms
cannot afford to have employees who are arrogant because
we already have a controversial agenda when we go to serve clients so they are
not rewarding behavior of people who are arrogant they looking for people who are
humble who are hard-working who are reliable who have good values who looking out for
the long term well-being of the firm so try to be confident but humble know that
you are confident in your ability to figure out any issue that you come
across that you will find solution that will serve the client well and the firm
but at the same time remember that you do not know everything and that you are
you have to keep yourself as a humble good human being who does not look down
on other people and then you are in a good position to have the right positioning within the firm so people will see you as a partner material and the last but
not least always interact with clients with superiors from the position of
strength it is crucial to never feel desperate never feel that you are less
worthy. for example if your business analyst and there is a partner never
feel that you are inferior that you are less worthy than a partner the partner
is just further alone in their career journey they have been where you are
right now and they probably wish that they could come back and become and be
your age again and go through this process again so everyone every career
stage has its pros and cons you are young you’re energetic you have probably
a lot more time on this earth than the partner does so do not position
yourself as someone who is inferior who is less worthy but at the same time also
be respectful of their knowledge of their title of their position what they
accomplished within the firm so it’s a balance but what I want you to do is to
never feel internally that you are less worthy that you are not important that
you are inferior to clients or to superiors and this is especially
relevant in certain areas such as management consulting for example in
consulting partners are like kings everyone is running around them people
laugh at their jokes even if it’s not funny and it’s ok it’s ok it’s it’s the
way it’s supposed to be because they deserve to be at
it’s very hard to become a partner you are at the risk of being managed out at
every step of the way you have to really perform at your next level to be ever
promoted to the next level so it’s very hard to become a partner within a major
consulting firm but at the same time you need to remember that you are important
you’re as worthy as another human being we are all just human beings
at the end of the day and I’ve seen that many times so for example I had a
colleague that I worked with at a management consulting firm the second
one that I joined and she received a message from partner saying that he
wanted to talk about some upcoming project it wasn’t urgent it was just an
email no urgency just talk to me when you have time she literally ran in
her hills toward his office as if she was trying to put out a fire and
think about how it is how it looks from the third-person perspective if partner
is looking at her behavior does he think about oh this is a partner material I
want her in front of the clients she will be representing the firm in the best
possible manner no she will not not no partner will not want that because she
will not be representing the firm in the best way the firm does not want to look
like that in front of clients so remember how do you appear to people
when you behave as if you’re less worthy less important that your time is less
important that your well-being is less important so it’s a very delicate
balance you still have to be very very very deferential and respectful but at
the same time internally to not feel desperate to not feel less worthy.
remember that you are just as important and what may be helpful for you is to
remember something that Michael said in one of his podcast episodes he said that
you need to appear as a CEO in training you need to be you need to behave you
need to be as a CEO in training you are CEO in training no matter how junior you
are you are a CEO in training so remember yourself this way position yourself this way. in your mind see yourself this way and then you will come across as a
partner material and many journey people feel very intimidated when they speak to
partners and I want you to remember that at the end of the day it’s not important
what anyone is thinking of you you your success will not be determined by what
they think. it will be determined by what you think. so that’s it for today
let me know in the comments which of the tips you found the most helpful and what
is the tip you would like to add for the firmsconsulting community on how to
develop a great image within management consulting firm or within another
organization like banking startups it’s not very different for other areas as
well thank you so much for watching I hope you enjoyed this video if you did
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Management consulting career: how to create the right image for yourself

One thought on “Management consulting career: how to create the right image for yourself

  • March 23, 2020 at 8:51 am

    We hope you will enjoy the "Management consulting career: how to create the right image for yourself" episode. Let us know what you think and what future topics you recommend we cover in the upcoming episodes for this series.


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