As a new consultant, how to build up confidence (dealing with boss/client)?

Self confidence
New answer on Jun 10, 2020
8 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 09, 2020

I am the sort of guy who lacks confidence. On the surface it is not that obvious, but I have come to realize this "inner me" during my career. I have encountered a "not so friendly" boss before - someone who is strict, manages in an "army style", and micromanages people. My confidence was crushed after he became picky about my works, and I feel that the low confidence level has impacted my work quality.

As I will start my new role in consulting soon, I would like to seek advice on how to build up strong self-confidence when dealing with colleagues or clients. As a consultant, I believe this is a crucial trait to possess since you would want people to believe in you. Could you share your experience of being confident enough to have a solid stand and fight for your views (with your boss or client), even when you are less experienced and younger compared to them? Especially for those people who are naturally less confident, what are some ways to improve confidence level at your job? Thank you!

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Anonymous replied on Jun 10, 2020

Dear A,

First of all, let's just look on what ruins our self-confidence. The most dangerous thing is when we're comparing ourselves with others. But the only person we have to compare ourselves with is you are. This is the first thing.

The second thing on which I want you to pay your attention is that you came all the way in your life up to this moment, when you're starting your career in consulting. So look back on your life path and remember your situation when you felt confidence and bring this resource to the present time.

If you feel struggles to do that, reach me out in PM I can recommend you a good life coach, who can help you to work on this specific matter.

Best,

André

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Ziliang
Expert
updated an answer on Jun 10, 2020
Ex BCG | Help you ace case interviews | 4+ years of exp.

Hi there!

I faced a similar issue when I first started (especially as an Asian male in the US). Here are some tips that I find helpful:

  1. It's natural and we all (at least most of us) feel the same way. Consulting is a competitive industry (especially MBB) -- as a 22 years old, you are expected to be an expert in a field that you know little about and be able to persuade / lead a group of clients who have 20+ years of experience. It's natural for us to feel this way
  2. Find a good case experience to build up confidence. It takes time to build up confidence and a good case experience is the best way to go. The key is to find a team and a topic that you are comfortable with. Think of a topic that you are familiar with (if you are a math wizard then find a more quantitative case) and managers / partners that you know. It's much easier for you to be confident in those circumstances. Use that experience as a starting point and slowly build up your confidence
  3. Observe others that you admire. Are there project leaders/principals/partners in your team that demonstrate strong self-assurance and confidence? Overserve their behavior. Or better yet, schedule time with them and ask them to be your mentor (depending on the firm you are at, most people are willing to help)

Hope this helps!

Best,

Ziliang

(edited)

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Antonello
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi, confidence is a long term goal made by multiple steps. Start by realizing that you are great and you have all the skills you need to be a successful consultant, since you've just passed a truly competitive admission process (in this period especially, even more competitive than usual). Start to participate more in problem-solving sessions and in discussions with management team: you add value and you are there for this.

Best,
Antonello

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Robert
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replied on Jun 09, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for openly sharing your situation - it's a common issue among candidates, but many of them don't feel confident enough to even talk about that. So good first step!

In my experience this won't be a big deal. You won't go to dinner parties with C-level executives alone on your first day, and consulting firms have a rather warm and helpful atmosphere (especially compared to investment banking), and this will give you some time to adopt and starting feeling yourself more comfortable.

Also, you will get tons of feedback (not always fun, but mostly always helpful!) and you will grow a lot, based on that.

More specifically for consulting now, your confidence will be in direct relation with the work you did behind the scenes. Nobody will fight about opinions and views, but you can challenge based on facts. So if you do your homework and you have a compelling case, you will be confident by default - problem solved :-)

Obviously I simplified a bit, but I hope it gives you the general idea clearly.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Clara
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replied on Jun 09, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

I believe it´s a common thing in consulting -the world of insecure overachievers-, so don´t worry too much about it, happens to practically all at some point.

Something that I found particularly helpful was to have multiple feedback touchpoints.

For sure they´re great to see improvement areas, but even more to see amazing points about yourself that you were not aware of!

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Ian
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replied on Jun 09, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I've struggled with exactly the same issue!

I have a few tips, both short-term an dlong-term.

Short-term

  • Figure out 1 thing you know or can add to each meeting. Decide it before the meeting and commit to saying it (if it makes sense).
  • Commit to saying something the first 5 minutes of a meeting. If you wait, you'll never say anything
  • Each morning when you wakeup, write down a sentence that will shift your mindset. You decide on the sentence, but it could be something like "I know I have value+input, and I will stand up for my views today)
  • Power-pose in front of the bathroom mirror. This actually works and shifts your mindset. Don't let anyone see you doing it though :P

Medium to Long Term

  • Get a supportive project lead! This makes all the difference...a great boss can build you up, a bad boss can unfortunately tear down the toughest of us. How do you find one? Figure out who has a good reputation, get to know them, make sure they like you + value your work, get staffed on their projects :)
  • Go on a very long hike...solo. Something like the Camino de Santiago. If you walk for 5-10 days just on your own, you'll learn a lot about yourself and develop some inner confidence

Hope this helps!

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Anonymous replied on Jun 09, 2020

Hi there,

It is difficult to find a quick remedy for these situations because there are a lot of variables that play a role in it.

What I can say is that as a new joiner, no one is expecting you to be vocal and interject in client meetings and the partner isn't expecting you to fight for your views just yet. So don't be in a rush to build confidence and end up choosing the wrong battle to fight.

Confidence will come with time once you get more comfortable with the ABCs of consulting (creating strong storylines, well structure slides, run smart analyses, etc.) - the more you work on the hard skills the more you can identify good ideas that are worth fighting for.

So for now, just focus on delivering what is asked of you and work the hard skills, and naturally, you will start hearing your voice more often in client meetings.

Believing in yourself and in your capabilities are pre-requisites for confidence.

I hope this helps

Khaled

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Anonymous replied on Jun 09, 2020

Hi,

when you start a new job it's normal not to have complete confidence.

However, a consultant is expected to quickly show assertiveness in the communication. This inevitably comes with time and at the beginning you can force your nature a little through a very good preparation. Eg. in the event of a client meeting, or with your manager or your partner, do not hesitate to train yourself orally on the elements that you will present, and think in advance about all the questions that we can ask you about your slides, on your figures, on your analyzes ... and prepare answers.

Good preparation at the start will help you build confidence that shouldn't go away afterwards.

David

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