Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ego and consulting...

I am not speaking of the consultants ego here...although that could be a great subject for a post in the future. This addresses the reality of personality types with regard to success for a consultant.

As people develop, so do their personalities. There is general agreement that this personality development (or “ego development”) occurs in stages through a person’s life (Loevinger, 1980). There is minor disagreement in terms of how many stages there are. The critical issue is recognizing what the stages are and, in the context of Loevigner’s essay, developing the appropriate counseling modality to suit the particular stage the client is in (Loevinger, 1980).

This is extremely relevant to a consultant seeking to enhance strategic thinking in a client organization. In fact, a study by Merron, Fisher, and Torbert used the stages of ego development as a basis of studying management action. Stages of the subjects were determined using Loevinger’s Sentence Completion Test. The study revealed that managers make meaning of the different challenges they face based on their stage of development (Merron, Fisher, & Torbert, 1987). Those at earlier stages of development may be more authoritarian or coercive whereas those at later stages of development are likely to be more consultative in their approach (Merron, Fisher, & Torbert, 1987).

This kind of information is critical to the consultant in determining the appropriate course of action with that client. The relationship between consultant and client is really a partnership (Block, 2000) and if the client partner is in the earlier stages of development, that can likely create resistance to consultant recommendations.

Block, P. (2000). Flawless consulting: A guide to getting your expertise used (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

Loevinger, J. (1980). Some Thoughts on Ego Development and Counseling. The Personnel and Guidance Journal , 389-390.

Merron, K., Fisher, D., & Torbert, W. R. (1987). Meaning Making and Management Action. Group & Organizational Studies , 274-286.

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