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From A Business Consultant To A Teacher – What Each Role Could Learn From The Other

In some ways, working for a corporation as a white-collar worker is similar to being a school teacher. Everyday you encounter new people, problems and it is your job to help them solve it. While consultants may deal with businesses looking to educate themselves on how to improve their business, teachers are so influential to the children they teach that they could have a lasting impact on them and the path they choose in life. While there are many similarities, there is also much each profession could learn from the other, and I am lucky enough to have occupied both roles during my life so far, and I feel I am in a position of knowledge and experience where I can comment and analyse both.

Consultant learning from a teacher

What could a consultant learn from a teacher? Well, first of all since consultants are usually dealing with experienced adults, their clients tend to be more set in their ways and not as open to change as young children would be with their teachers. An example would be when I was a teacher, dealing with children was less predictable, because although they each had their own character, they were not fully set in it, and therefore you knew that with enough of a certain influence over time, you could mould them to be a certain way, either at school or at home. The same could be said for a consultant and their client.

If you tried to convince a client to take certain steps, especially those they have never experienced, they would likely be more stubborn and conservative. Persistence is key in this regard, as just like children, they can be influenced, but it may take time. A example of a client stuck in their old ways was one who extremely reluctant to introduce new technology to the workplace. Initially it was the internet, but they eventually gave in. Next it was room booking systems; now booking meetings are all done online, and then it was allowing remote work, but now half the workforce are outsourced. Consultants must be persistent and acutely aware of the different types of characters they have to deal with in order to give the best service.

Teachers learning from consultants

I have encountered many consultants who have become teachers and vice versa. Since consultants usually work with people with many years of professional experience, they will have seen more types of complex intended behaviours than a teacher. Obviously, in dealing with adults, many have an agenda or motive that you must recognise and interpret, unlike young children.

Teachers could learn from consultants in that they should look at the bigger picture. Often, school teachers are confined to teaching a curriculum, even though the world is rapidly changing faster than the curriculum can be updated. They should always be aware of external changes and be creating strategies for their students to be learning effectively. No two students are the same, just like businesses, and should therefore be treated as individuals.