Getting Naked: A Business Fable about Shedding the Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty by Patrick Lencioni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Great consultants are leaders. They develop a particular area of expertise and use it to influence their clients to make decisions that are in their organizational best interests. Much time, effort, and money can be wasted whenever a consultant fails to persuade, which happens whenever s/he is not liked or trusted by the people in the client group. Patrick Lencioni is a well-regarded organizational development consultant whose previous books (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Death by Meeting, for example) address specific issues faced by consultants and client groups. In Getting Naked, Lencioni turns his attention to the business of consulting itself and offers clear and cogent advice about how to build and maintain strong relationships with clients.
Among the golden nuggets:
*Always consult instead of sell. (Answer their questions and don't worry about whether you have a contract.)
*Give away the business. (Don't worry about the so-called problem of free advice. Just help people and eventually you'll have all the business you need.)
*Enter the danger. (Dive into the conflict between group members. They need an outsider to help, and you are it!)
*Take a bullet for the client. (The consultant is expendable. Let them throw you under the bus.)
*Do the dirty work. (Type up the meeting notes, wash the whiteboard, spare the others.)
The "getting naked" idea has to do with being vulnerable, admitting when you don't know something, or acknowledging an error. Most consultants struggle with a perceived need to be the expert all the time (after all, they are paying you money for your guidance.) But we are people too, with weaknesses like everyone else. It's OK - even preferable - to let others see that. Clients are more likely to reward that than to punish it.
Like all of Lencioni's fable-style books, this is a good read, fun and practical. As a consultant, I'm sure glad he turned his attention to our unique situation and needs. Very helpful. For those who are interested to learn more, you can download a free two-page summary, written by me, by clicking here.
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