Your question is a good one and I think is partly, if not entirely, how to be a good consultant, or how to consult with brilliant people. Mentoring, coaching, training adults (brilliance level aside) is ultimately a challenge of establishing trust.
Trust that you, as a leader, are worth following, and trust that they are in a safe place to accomplish the task. The sooner you get to the environmental trust, and establish good, safe, respectful boundaries, and exemplar a constructive environment, and disallow deconstruction the better you can do the work. Guard the work. Demonstrate tolerance, and be willing to actively protect (from negative, and disrespectful behavior.)
Yes. At times I’ve encountered an almost, “anti-purpose” smugness toward these questions, and sometimes from my most eager customers — which just, doesn’t surprise me anymore, but was something I thought a lot about at one point. I think this smugness can come from a variety of places and often expresses itself as egotism and various attitudes of resistance (even hostility and sabotage.) That’s when we consultants envision the famous, “Help me, help you.” playing out in our minds. (We’ve all thought this when we’re midwifing breakthroughs, and we’ve all been there. All of us.) When clients feel safe and think you have skill and knowledge, then you can begin, in earnest, to focus on the tasks at hand.
Think of this from your customer’s point of view. They’ve hired someone outside their subject matter expertise, not to fix their car (which is scary enough) but to guide their business. And there are bad consultants, marketing charlatans as I call them — committing marketing malpractice. I bet you know some. And relationships evolve: the beginning, the honeymoon, the work, new understandings, new beginning, a new honey moon, new work, etc.
Lots of reasons: First — it’s hard! You have to respect that, and not their expertise. And all the other options: perhaps we are mysteriously drawn towards our greatest fears, to then wrestle with them and rebuke them. Perhaps there is a fear of unmasking fears. Or just a first level response to perceived fears of penetrating too deeply, too personally, and insecurities about exposure and especially exposing inabilities — protecting preconceived ideas surrounding the all knowing CEO/leader role — which we know not to be true, but act as if it is written in the sky somewhere. And some people worry sessions will breakdown into nonsensical navel gazing if they’re asked to feel (words have power — word choices evoke responses) as well as think — but, in reality, is what we humans do in every second of our conscious lives. (My illustrations apply to the general mechanism of thought — not just as they pertain to brand.)
I’ve been asked very, very simple questions by brilliant people with the good judgement and the total confidence to ask them. (Which impresses me! Beyond belief!) Wouldn’t it be great if we were all like that! Letting insecure feelings interfere with gaining vital information is anti-productive and expensive.
In the end, you have to do the work. Let your awareness be your guide to a strategy of getting to an optimal environment, but not be your topic. You have a scope of material to deliver, and on time. Stay on track.
Schedule: What is a Brand? (and do you need a brand strategy consultant or a designer?) – prezi slideshow
Really good questions. Thank you.