Are you an Insultant or a Consultant?

June 27, 2006

Psychoanalyst and Management Guru Manfred Kets de Vries was one of the plenary speakers at the ISPSO Symposium in Haarlem and he spoke about the role of the consultant in asking critical questions of clients. At one point he said he now describes himself as an “Insultant” rather than a “Consultant”. After I’d finished chuckling at the expression I realised that there’s more than a grain of truth in that if we are to be honest sometimes about what we do.
I think what he was really getting at (and this is certainly my interpretation) is that we can’t afford to be too compliant. Our role is to stand outside the system while actively contributing to it and to question, question, question. Sometimes we have to challenge and say the unsayable and that can often be “insulting” in so far as we dare to question the status quo or how things are always done around here.
I don’t think he (or indeed, I) is advocating being rude or insulting in the traditional sense of the word but there’s much to think about in being an “insultant” don’t you think?

2 People reacted on this

  1. Kets de Vries is always worth listening to or reading. He has written some particularly interesting stuff on Entrepreneurship and basically sees the entrepreneur as a deviant who does not fit into conventional organisational structures and as a consequence must set up his own. He seems to be the only researcher that has looked to any great extent at what he terms “the darker side of entrepreneurship”. He has extended this theme into family businesses also.
    Whatever he says he says it well and always makes you think. No bad attribute to have!
    Apologies if I have gone off topic somewhat.

  2. I like his writing also and I’m particularly impressed by him because he’s a psychoanalyst and he’s applying a psychoanalytic frame to organisations and leaders (my own particular point of reference also!). His presentation and content were the focus of much discussion at the conference!

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