Q: Why do ethics and wholeness make us a more valuable or effective consultant?
A: As consultants we use “self” as the instrument to create change. It is, therefore, necessary to continuously work on self-development. This includes working on our values, leading an undivided life and being in flow (a positive state of mind where a person is fully immersed and engaged).
While not all consultants work in the field of organization development and change, there is much that can be learned from the experts in the field. Change agents should manage change carefully to meet the expectations of the organization’s development values. Be open to learning by asking the right questions, listening and seeking deep understanding. Several experts in the organizational development field such as Edgar Schein, David W. Jamieson, and Judith Schechtman call this the “use of self.” Successful organization development facilitators have an “intangible” that makes them master of the situation. This helps to build the consulting relationship.
Self-awareness and authenticity have often been linked to ethical behavior. Daniel Goleman, Jennifer George and others believe that it is not possible to be ethical in a business situation without deeper self-awareness and sense of purpose. According to Parker Palmer, this sense of purpose leads us to an understanding of what it means to have undivided life and wholeness. We know we excel at consulting if what we do is our life passion and calling, thus feeling whole. There are other characteristics of wholeness such as feeling in alignment, energized, blissful and in flow. Palmer recommends creating your circle of trust in which one can grow while feeling supported.
Going back to the “use of self,” here are a few tips from Schein to keep in mind as you are consulting and building relationships with clients.
First, always try to be helpful. Second, always stay in touch with reality. Third, access your ignorance. Fourth, remember that everything you do is an intervention. Fifth, consider that it is the client who owns the problem and the solution. Finally, go with the flow.
Working on self-development will improve your life. By learning from organization development consultants, you can become a more effective consultant.
Marcella de la Torre teaches courses at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.