Imagine for an instant living with a group of consultants, fortunately just a few of them but nevertheless a representative group, that had an schizophrenia issue. Always hypothetically, of course.
And what would their syndrome be? Well, they would envision themselves as managers, not as consultants. They would be saying they are there to help, to assist, to counsel and consult… but, in their inner depths, they’d envision themselves as in charge of something. They’d be saying “I’ll help you” but they’d be meaning “let me be in charge of”.
Asymmetry between reality and perceptions is always a problem. It’s not about being, or not being in charge of something or about being a consultant or a manager. It’s the dysfunction of perceiving reality different than it ontologically is.
A schizophrenic mind can indeed be beautiful, and may not even stand in the way of a Nobel Laureate like John Forbes Nash. But that needs an extraordinarily gifted mind that most of us simply lack.
Reminds me of what David Maister, in his latest book Strategy and the Fat Smoker, describes as the difference between “experts” and “advisors”. The former you delegate them the responsibility of solving or managing a certain issue, the latter must support you in your understanding and managing the issue, but the responsibility and the decisions are still yours.
Whatever you wish you want your role to be, you must be true to yourself as the first step to exteriorise your intentions and thus make them visible to others. Then you’ll be able to deal with them. But building an imaginary world for yourself and trying to trick your client (albeit maybe unconsciously) is the road for failure.
A simple roadmap: clarify your role, and then share with your customer, peers or boss the span of that role. If you don’t like the outcome, face it, make a plan, act on it. But don’t try to mask reality in order to avoid facing it. Schizophrenic geniuses do exists, but they rarely are able to work in a team.