I worked as a Software Engineer for a major Australian technology firm. I’m bright, skilled, and dedicated, yet these qualities alone aren’t enough to make a competent consultant. Fortunately, after listening to an experienced coach, I came up with some useful suggestions. Here’s the three-level lesson I learned:

1st level - You know a particular ability better than others at the basic level. For example, I specialized in JavaScript front-end development and learned more about it than my client’s employees, the world’s largest gaming company. They require your services because of the talents you can offer. This work is not ideal for you because you will make mistakes occasionally, and it will be difficult to keep a professional first impression. After a period, you become indistinguishable from the millions of other people with similar skill sets. Your contribution to the company is restricted. There is a slight difference between what they pay you and the value you deliver.

2nd level - With many skill sets, you deliver great value to clients at the senior level. We’re humans, not machines, and we should all have multiple talents. With all of your previous client job experience, you have a unique viewpoint on the current challenge, which sets you apart from the client’s staff. You understand what works and what doesn’t, what the client loves and dislikes, what the client genuinely requires, and what the consulting firm excels at. Build trust by being culturally informed.

3rd level - At the greatest rank, you are akin to a King’s faithful. Even though the King dislikes hearing the truth, you must inform him. And if something goes wrong, regardless of whether the consultant advises everyone about the issue ahead of time or not, it’s your fault from the client’s perspective because people don’t naturally blame themselves and never confess they’re wrong. You don’t have to like the client in person, but you must adore them. Understand why they do certain things and compassionately recommend what is best for the firm. Love is a strong term, but it helps to humanize the business. You aren’t only concerned with yourself. You are concerned about the client’s success. You win if the client wins.

Remember - Overall, reaching the highest level is difficult. To create a win-win situation, you must know more and provide your abilities and high values to the customer, the consulting firm, and yourself. It won’t be simple and will take years of practice, but I’ll remember these consulting rules.