Consulting vs. Employment: In this Economy is the Grass Greener on the Other Side of the Fence?

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

Whether you are an executive, or a consultant, you may be wondering if staying put or making a change will keep you on the fast track. On one hand, corporate employment is not what it used to be. Companies are unstable, advancement is uncertain, and excellent performance doesn’t mean bigger rewards. On the other hand, consulting is a riskier proposition as client budgets shrink, competition grows and getting going costs more. In the current economic slowdown, the screws are being tightened everywhere and it is quite understandable that you may be having second thoughts about your current pursuits. As a consultant and coach to executives and other consultants, I can tell you that resolving your concerns and ambivalence soon is imperative for your success. Simultaneously looking for a job and for clients tells the world you are looking for direction instead of providing value. The quicker you get off the fence, the sooner you will be standing strong!

Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit.

The first question to ask is where do you really fit? It is imperative to understand your best and highest use and exploit it for maximum benefit. While most consultants were executives and many executives act as consultants, the skill sets are quite different. Here is how:

Executives must be…

Consultants must be…

  • Great administrators
  • Great sales people
  • Excellent people managers
  • Driven individual contributors
  • Strong collaborators and organizational players
  • Self sufficient, entrepreneurial players
  • Methodical executors
  • Creative strategists

While any leader should be proficient in all of the above, everybody has stronger and weaker skills. When choosing between consulting and management opportunities, choose the one that leverages more personal strengths.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go? How To Tell You Are Not In The Right Place.

One downfall of talented, motivated, high achievers is their capacity to withstand pain and adversity. Professional setbacks often fuel their determination and commitment to succeed. This characteristic is a double-edged sword. Too often, tenacity distracts talented people from focusing on and exploiting their best and highest use. Unfortunately, not everyone has experienced a defining moment that drives him or her to pursue his or her true professional dreams. But, if an executive or a consultant, with help from an objective coach, advisor or friend, honestly answers the following questions it can happen.

As an executive am I… As a consultant am I…
  • Returning at least 10 times
    the cost of my compensation package to my employers, customers and staff?
  • Delivering services worth at least 10 times my fees to my clients?
  • Anticipating more responsibility, authority, my boss’s job and his boss’s job?
  • Looking forward to being busier, more in demand and providing more services?
  • Truly enjoying what I do every day, not what my job description and objectives state I should do?
  • Actively pursuing new clients, building awareness and serving existing clients all at the same time?
  •  More excited about hands-on management and ongoing implementation?
  • More excited about working on multiple problems, proposing creative solutions, but not seeing your efforts through to completion?

As a consultant am I…

  • Returning at least 10 times the cost of my compensation package to my employers, customers and staff?
  • Delivering services worth at least 10 times my fees to my clients?
  • Anticipating more responsibility, authority, my boss’s job and his boss’s job?
  • Looking forward to being busier, more in demand and providing more services?
  • Truly enjoying what I do every day, not what my job description and objectives state I should do?
  • Actively pursuing new clients, building awareness and serving existing clients all at the same time?
  • More excited about hands-on management and ongoing implementation?
  • More excited about working on multiple problems, proposing creative solutions, but not seeing your efforts through to completion?

An honest look at the answers will indicate where a high achiever should best apply his or her talents. Simply stated, where they will add the most value!

Make A Commitment And Walk The Talk! Five Ways You Can Focus.

Choosing the right side of the fence will make all the difference. But regardless of your choice, here are some points to keep in mind.

  1. Determine which profession, consulting or management, exploits your best and highest use
  2. Focus on increasing your strengths, that is why the boss or client will hire you
  3. Build your reputation with your boss or client and others like them
  4. Get objective outside advice and coaching
  5. If you aren’t changing to meet the needs of who pays you, they will make a change.

The great philosopher, Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”! Unfortunately, too many high-potential people really do this. When choosing between a consulting and a management career, really make a commitment to pursuing your best and highest use. In good economic times as well as in bad, you won’t be sorry. Chances are that you will be happier if you do!

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at  (412) 973-2080, by email at abirol@andybirol.com, or on the web at www.andybirol.com.


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