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July 23, 2008

Leaders, Learners and Liars

Leaders, Learners and Liars make up the three fundamental types of consultants that I generally see working in industry.


Leaders are the people who have been there, done that, and have the scars to prove it. Their advice is dripping in experience and tells the story of battles won / lost and drawn during a career spanning several decades.

Leaders may have spent time in industry, or they may just have worked as consultants for a long time. Either way their experience generally covers more than a handful of client companies, possibly a few different countries as well, and a range of different industry sectors.

Leaders make a difference, they have a presence, and they are recognizable almost the moment they open their mouths. They have something that clients want to have, and their value speaks for itself. You want to be a leader!


They want to be leaders, they work hard and readily accept their shortcomings. Learners are there to learn the ropes, they are the most likely to answer an email sent at 11pm and they are continually in search of good mentors, good information, and the thing that will help them to carve out their opwn niche in their company, industry or market.

Learners work hard to generate value for their clients, and they will spend additional time researching the things they do not know to build up their track record of accomplishment. If you are not a leader you want to be a Learner.


Liars are also obvious the moment they open their mouths generally. They have very little real experience, they quote other peoples war stories, and they are are driven by ego instead of results. Sometimes lazy, although not always (It takes a lot of energy to be a convincing Liar) they are the least likely to deliver sustainable value to their clients.

Liars are also referred to as a "would-be-if-she-could-be", posers, and they often avoid the difficult situations.

Amazingly Liars do not always realize they are Liars. They think they have good experience, they think they have a good background to deliver value to clients, and they often resort to other skills rather than value to get ahead.

Liars rarely deliver value to their clients, and they are principally value destroyers, team dividers, and scope creepers.

You do not want to be a Liar.