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Consulting Skills: A 21st Century Competency


Mon Nov 24 2014

Consulting Skills: A 21st Century Competency

Professionals in the learning and development and talent management fields understand the challenges of effectively guiding business partners to the best solution for their business unit. As leaders of change and learning in our organizations and with our clients, the ability to support our partners as they feel the pressure to take action is a balancing act. 

Consulting is part science, part skill set, and part practical application. The consistent application of ATD’s 5-D Consulting Model is the vehicle that guides us to ask the key questions, probe deeper to help our clients identify the right direction, and assess their readiness to move forward with a solution. 


Each step in the model is an opportunity for our clients to ask themselves if they should move forward—go, or no go? It’s our job as consultants to assist them in making that decision. Questions like “How could past change efforts have been more successful?” and “What metrics can you use to measure results?” will position our clients to be successful. 

What 21st century competencies are needed to be an effective and successful consultant? They fall into six categories: leadership capacity, interpersonal proficiency, business acumen, organizational knowledge, analytical skills, and organizing abilities. These competencies are each comprised of five specific skills or actions. 

Becoming competent in these areas requires us to challenge our current abilities and find ways to test current approaches to constantly improve. That takes patience and the application of the ATD 5-D Consulting Model to focus us with our business partners on the steps that lead to not just any solution, but the right solution. It’s a great opportunity to educate our business partners about our model and that we use a process to keep us focused on outcomes for them. 

Google the phrase “consulting and L&D practice” and you get more than 5 million hits! Here is a line from a job description for a learning and development consultant: “Work with division business and HR leaders to assess, diagnose, plan and implement strategic talent and OE solutions to support business strategy.” 

What we know: Our role as L&D workplace professionals increasingly calls for a capacity to lead and support our business partners in finding the best solutions. We do that most effectively by faithfully applying a consulting model. 


Join me for the next offering of the Consulting Skills Preconference Certificate program. You’ll walk away with a toolkit full of consulting materials to immediately apply.

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