The Dark Side of a Consulting Relationship

Over the years I have encountered some truly great consultants, as well as a few that are just plane scary. By scary, I mean the ones who always need to be the smartest person in the room, love to drop names and never seem to go away.

They tend to use pieces of information to manufacture needs for their continued support, playing on the lack of competence and emotional maturity of their clients. If you think that you or someone on your team might have one of these nefarious relationships, ask yourself the following:

  1. Do I consistently use this individual to gather information that I could otherwise obtain myself if I had a higher level of knowledge of my team members capabilities and motives?
  2. Does this person tend play armchair psychologist by offering limited facts to support their speculations about people?
  3. Do I use this consultant to deliver messages to members of my team that I do not want to or are not comfortable delivering myself?
  4. Is this adviser seen as capable, insightful and trustworthy by members of my team, or do you sense that people are holding back for fear of this person discrediting them?
  5. Over the course of our relationship, how has this person helped me to be more less dependent on their support and more effective as a leader?

If you worry about any of the above, take action to recalibrate the relationship and/or terminate it. In doing so accept the fact that you enabled this situation. While demonstrating poor judgment in many ways, your consultant was doing what you asked.    In any case, you must come clean with yourself and members of your team of you are to create a climate where your organization can benefit from value adding consulting and advisory services.

Some of you reading this are probably shocked at the thought of a consulting relationship such as the one I suggest.

On the other hand, a few may be cringing and a bit upset that any consultant such as myself would ever suggest this is real.

It is. Beware.