You’re different from other people. Your Mom always said so, and when was she ever wrong?!
Tools like DISC, Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, Kolbe A, StrengthsFinder, BCPI and other tools are popular because smart folks like you know that understanding different types of people is important.*
Set aside personality types for the moment, though, and consider the different “generations” at your consulting firm, which are described below. (Even if you operate a solo consultancy, you still work with others.)
Consulting Firm Generations:
Founders, Leaders, Joiners (and Subcontractors)
The “first generation” inside a consulting firm. The folks who build a firm from zero. They start with nothing more than intentions, hopes, a healthy supply of chocolate and, if they’re fortunate, a couple of anchor clients.
The “second generation” inside a consulting firm. They grow up in the firm, taking on increasing levels of responsibility or they’re hired in at a senior level based on their consulting experience elsewhere.
They sit on the leadership team, oversee significant portions of the firm’s strategy, delivery, infrastructure and/or business development.
The “third generation” inside a consulting firm. They join the firm low on the totem pole (analyst, intern, hot-cocoa preparer), or after the firm is already stable and well-established. Some Joiners will grow into Leaders.
Freelancers, subcontractors and virtual employees are a standard ingredient in the consulting mix these days. Typically, contractors are running their own, small practices and have a mix of mentalities that cross the generations.
The mindset in each generation is distinct and the contrasts can be starker than a butterscotch chip in a chocolate fudge cookie.
You’ll enjoy far more success with far less frustration when you factor the generational differences into how you hire, manage, inspire, reward, and deploy the individuals who contribute to your consulting firm.
For example, look at the mindset differences between Founders and Joiners that massively affect their approaches to Business Development:
Entrepreneurial – Strong desire to build business
Worker – Strong desire to do good, meaningful work
Highly resilient – Experienced at bouncing back from “No”
Careful – Avoids situations that can lead to a “No”
Sacrifice for sales success – Willing to set aside other life priorities to hit sales targets
Sacrifice the sale – Building the business and achieving sales are not primary life goals
Sales oriented – Knows success/future depends on winning engagements
Work oriented – Success can be achieved without participating in Business Development
Embraces sales – Doesn’t view Business Development negatively
Disdains sales – Harbors negative views of Business Development and selling
With such different outlooks, it’s no surprise that Founders fail when they exhort the next generations to emulate the Founder’s approach to Business Development.
I’m very interested in your input. Do you see any differences in mindset, attitude, or approach between generations?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.