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#246: Serving on Boards as a Consultant

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, February 22, 2010
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2010
In a previous tip you mentioned getting active in association committees/boards. Frankly I have found them time consuming and pretty much a waste of time. What am I missing?

Putting time and effort into an activity that is not income producing is seen by some consultants as a waste of time when they could be billing. I think this misses the point of professionalism for several reasons. First, income is not the full test of value of activities (sleep is not income producing but we do it anyway). Serving in a capacity that mimics the circumstances of our clients is incredibly invaluable to build insight, skills and credibility. When you have to walk in your client's shoes for a bit, you become a better consultant.

Second, part of your obligation as a professional is to give back to your profession and community. Others judge your refusal to make this contribution as a statement of your position on the selfish-altruistic scale. I know clients who assume their prospective consultants are qualified in skills and experience but base their hiring decision on participation in professional and community activities.

Tip: Especially when it comes to governing boards, consultants are not always welcome. Not that you can't bring a great deal of perspective and experience. It's just that this is governance and not a management function. Many consultants just can't take the advice hat off and assume a governance role. If you can't do this, then you need to find another way to contribute. Talk with your sponsor about your attitude and areas you can best support your organization and cause. There is a place where you can make a difference, both to the organization you serve and to yourself.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  community service  consultant role  customer understanding  learning  professional development  professionalism  reputation 

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Shangke Wu says...
Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2010
It is an interesting topic, advice is what consultant does as a job in a daily basis, and I would assume that governance mentioned above mean make decision on boards, so if the consultant never have a chance to serve the board, how can he/she make to the next level putting advice into decision making process, it is definitely the transformation I want to make to myself and I would love to put my name forward as an voluntary to serving on boards if there is a chance to do so.
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