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I'm not a consultant, I'm a catalyst



When someone asks, "what do you do for a living?", I respond: "I'm a catalyst". But they cannot place me.


The next question is: "Are you a consultant?". 


"Yes and no! I have worked as a consultant, I created companies as entrepreneur and am trained as a coach but I'm neither of the three."


But then what?


Recently a client, who thanked me, said:


"What I appreciate is that, when you support a team, you work with them, not for them. You bring tools, methodologies, produce reports, give advise. But you're not tied to these. You build your way forward with the people. You make sure that they make things happen."


"Can you elaborate?", I asked.


"Well, you are on the team. You are not really what I call "an external". You work with us, as one of us, you accompany us for a while. You make things happen with and through people. You don't wait for things to happen. You lead them in the right direction. And that makes a difference."


Indeed, a catalyst acts both as coach and as player.


For a catalyst, the objective is : get there! And the most effective and efficient way to get there is to work with others who want to get there, and guide them. 


Another asked: "how do you do that?" 


My answer: "I ask a lot of questions. To listen, understand people's context and points of view. Think with them. Ideas on what to change emerge. Most are already there. However, things do not happen. Ideas need to be sorted, plans worked out. A catalyst makes ideas emerge, polishes them. When needed, brings in new ideas.


A catalyst doesn't simply support a team. He builds a team and make things happen with people who want to make things happen.


A catalyst doesn't need to look good. He wants others to look good. He does not force people to make decisions. He facilitates decision-making.


A catalyst embraces responsibility, accepts it with the team. A consultant is not expected to be responsible. In fact, he should avoid responsibility, transfer it to the team. 


A catalyst thinks long-term, wants the team to get sustainable results, lifts others, does not mind if he is not recognised. A consultant focuses on short-term thinking, needs to get results quickly to prove his added value. 


A catalyst asks a lot of questions, wants the team to speak out. Through his questions, their minds evolve, even if they not always realise. A consultant must be heard, gives a lot of answers.


A catalyst gives credit when things go right. When things go wrong, he shares the responsibility. The focus is on "we". A consultant takes credit when things go right. The focus is more on "me". 


A catalyst uses his understanding of human interaction to build and sustain relationships and develop the competencies of the team, motivating people and creating synergies to, in the end, deliver team-based results. A consultant uses his competencies to tell others what to do.


I'm not a consultant. I'm a catalyst. 

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