Ex-Mckinsey, current strategy guy at Google.
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Do management consultants have to be exroverted?

Anonymous A

Hi!

I am interested in working as a consultant because I like the kind of analytical thinking that is needed and different projects you work on. However, I am an extremely introverted person. I am not shy, I have no trouble speaking in front of people (even tho it's not my favourite thing to do), but I am quiet, like my space and don't really like to hang around a lot of people. Many people are surprised when they hear my career plans which is making me a bit unsure. So far, I thought it's not a problem, since I have top grades, good analytical skills and it's not like I'm socially anxious or anything. I think I would be good at the job but I dont really fulfill that typical image of a consultant...

So I'm wondering what do you guys think? Do consultants have to be exroverted?

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Hemant
Expert
replied on 01/26/2017
Ex-Mckinsey, current strategy guy at Google.

Take it from an introvert: you do NOT have to be an extrovert to be a good consultant. There are plenty of non-scientific but data-centric studies (https://qz.com/748741/companies-headed-by-introverts-performed-better-in-a-study-of-thousands-of-ceos/) that reveal that introverted personalities make better leaders. Most of the CEOs you will meet as a consultant are likely going to be introverts. Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, etc are all introverts who, IMO, would tend to get along better with introverts -- take this with a grain of salt that "introvert" in my world typically means "inward focused" rather than the typical "car-salesman" stereotype.

Your job as a consultant is to achieve two things: you need to be liked, and you need to be respected. If you fail in being liked, CEO will take your analysis/recommendation and will find ways to disagree. If you fail in being respected, you just relegate yourself to a good bar buddy but with no consultative value. A good combination of inward looking extroverts (what is being called as "extraverts" these days) is what does the trick. At the end of the day, the role of a consultant is cerebral first, visceral second, but it is the visceral that makes for a great consultant so you need to a bit of an emotional chamaleon.

-Hemant

Anonymous B replied on 01/26/2017

Interesting question! As you phrased it, I don’t think a consultant necessarily needs to be extroverted. If you fulfill all the necessary criteria, you are qualified. As you said, there is a difference between being shy and introverted. Both extroverted and introverted people can have really good social skills and can actually complement each other. While I would say that a majority of consultants are rather extroverted, it could actually benefit you if you are not. Introverted people tend to have a bunch of different valuable qualities. However you will have to spend a lot of time with different people and public speaking etc., so you should make sure that this is really what you want. It is also extremely important that you are confident and know what needs to be done. You don’t need to be extroverted to have confidence, right? ;) I know there is this specific image of a consultant, but it is changing and consultancies are becoming much more diverse. Hope this helps you!

Francesco replied on 01/31/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (900+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

I agree with Hemant. Some people think consultants should be extrovert because in the mid positions (Engagement Manager/Project Leader) you constantly have to interact with managers and C-Levels and once reached the top of the pyramid (Principle/Partner) you will have to win new projects to be successful. However, excelling in this requires great communication and sales ability rather than being an extrovert, and these skills can definitely be mastered also by non-extrovert people.

Best,

Francesco