Consulting Well: Developing Flourishing Consultant-Client Relationships

Consulting is often a frustrating experience for clients—and no more fulfilling for the consultants concerned even though they get their fee. But consulting doesn’t have to be like this. A consultant-client relationship that flourishes is actually a good indication that effective consulting is taking place. It reflects the client’s sense that his or her aspirations for the assignment are being steadily realized and the consultant’s sense that she or he is fully contributing. A healthy relationship and successful outcomes go hand in hand; management consulting can be a practically and emotionally rewarding experience for clients and consultants.

Positive consultant–client affiliations develop in a particular way as assignments progress. Based on research, this article lays out the way that happens. Before now, research into successful consulting relationships has analyzed a few critical success factors or provided practitioner narratives (such as those of Peter Block and Geoffrey Bellman). In contrast, this research offers a concise, structured description of the association as it develops.

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