Empathy Fueled Business Growth: John Huckle of BusinessForward [Podcast]

Now, you would think that a people-oriented industry like consulting would be focused on creating empathy.

But it was actually the lack of this trait within consulting business models that drew John Huckle, who started his career as a Deloitte, then become the founder of his own consulting firm called BusinessForward.

business growthSo what is it about empathy that differentiated John’s business from other consulting firms?

“The bug was placed in my brain around the ability to use consulting to really solve people’s professional problems,” said John. “But I really thought I was capable of doing a lot more especially since our professional and personal lives are linked more now than ever.”

And this approach has turned to be the key to getting his company noticed. Since its founding in 2006, BusinessForward has been recognized as one of the top 100 businesses in Pittsburgh and one of the fastest growing companies in the area by media outlets.

“It’s about asking more than what is the problem but asking why there is that problem, why is it important to you, the client and why is it important to your boss,” he said. “The power of why is not necessarily a new one, but is a powerful one when reinforced on a regular basis.”

According to John, that’s what turns you, the consultant, into the client’s friend or someone who can understand the problem that they’re dealing with as well as helping impact that problem personally and professionally.

Using this approach, John has been able to help a large integrated health network transform their HR function with technology.

With many organizations’ increasing focus on leveraging their HR department as a tool for organizational change, John noted that businesses wanted to change their perspective from being commodity-based to service-based.

“In that case we are big believers in people and process first, before you think about adding technology to transform or solve real business problems,” he said.

So that’s how BusinessForward helped this health network evaluate the best and most valuable way to apply technology to serve the needs of its 30,000 employees. And to go the extra mile, John’s company actually advises clients to choose from technology solution providers that can also be potentially great business partners.

Asking why is just one way John shares empathy with others.

Outside of his business he has both played the role of a mentor and a mentee in large circles of groups. For years, John has been an active Vistage member.

“I can’t really pin down what I learned to one mentor, but rather I look at mentorship as the collection of events I have learned from people,” he said. “My Vistage group is a great example, because they all come from very different backgrounds and I have found this to be very, very powerful.”

To this day, John shares the ideas and thoughts he is inspired by with his new and existing employees.

“The amount of change you bring back to your organization is one thing, but you got to make sure that your group is prepped to take on that change,” John said.

Category: Leadership

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About the Author: Dave Nelsen

I joined Vistage as a founding member (CE 676) in 2003. I've started four tech companies, attracting $70MM in venture capital. I was recognized as E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year (2000) and as Vistage Best Speaker of the Year (2011). I've h…

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