Leading a Consulting Company: Your Real Job

Let’s talk about what your real job is when you’re leading a consulting company. There are many hats you need to wear in order to keep your business moving forward, but you certainly don’t have to wear all the hats within the company. There are tasks you should focus on in order to ensure the success of your business, while leaving other tasks to your employees. This article will help you focus on what your job is as a leader of your consulting business and what you should and should not be doing.

What your job isn’t. Your job is not to be the face of the business. You don’t have to put your name on every single product or on every single white paper or business card that goes out. You don’t have to put your face on everything and that should not be your primary focus if you’re the leader of the company. You also don’t have to be the “know it all” expert. It isn’t your job to know everything, not to mention it is extremely hard. If you put yourself in a situation where only you know and understand every single issue that your clients come across, you are setting yourself up for failure. There will be something that you don’t know. Moreover, you don’t have to be the core client romancer. You need clients, you have to interact with them and you need to be seen as their ally, but that is not only your job. Therefore, you don’t have to attend all of their sessions, go to all of their networking events, attend every meeting and give every presentation. That is not your core responsibility. As you step back from these responsibilities, let me provide three other behaviors that are foundational if you’re going to lead a consulting company the right way.

Recruit / Hire. You are responsible for recruiting and hiring. You have to make sure that you hire the right people who are attached to the right responsibilities. You have to assess someone for what they already bring to the table and match them with an appropriate job description. Second, you have to make sure you are putting quality inputs (people) in your systems so that you can get quality outputs (work) out of your systems. You have situations, processes, and systems in your business that are supposed to create a certain output. People need to come in to your organization, experience those systems, and then interact with clients at a high level. If you don’t put in the right inputs, then you’re going to end up with poor outputs. Third, you have to make sure you enjoy the people on your team. You must be sure they enjoy you and the culture you have prepared in your organization. If you don’t enjoy them and they don’t enjoy you, it doesn’t matter how talented that person is. You cannot talk someone into a good relationship and a bad relationship doesn’t fix itself later on. It is better to hire for attitude and train up their skills, than to hire for skill and try to convince them to improve their attitude.

Visionary. You have to be the core visionary and make sure that you, as the leader of the business, are always owning and articulating the big picture. There is a direction your business is going in, a certain client that you’re trying to reach, and an experience you want that client to have. You have to own that big picture and explain it to everybody else in your organization. If you aren’t focused on that, at some point the big picture loses clarity and your business loses potency. Second, you have to refine that big picture as new information comes. As you continue on the path of your big picture you will be introduced to new challenges like evolving competitors and changing client requirements. All of those things affect your big picture and you have to refine it as time goes on. Third, you have to catch new opportunities. New things come along and you have to be able to pounce on them. If your eyes aren’t open for new opportunities you can’t catch them, and if you can’t catch them you don’t experience new growth. Again, if you’re not focused on your vision than all of these things pass you by.

Violently defend the culture of your organization. This might be the most important point of all. You must protect the sanctity of your environment.

Realize that there are threats to your environment: There are things that will otherwise interrupt your environment if you don’t stop them. It could be competitors, bad internal attitudes, or wrong messages in the media. These are all threats and you have to work against them to keep your environment healthy.

Understand threats don’t fix themselves: If you make a mistake and hire the wrong person in the company, it doesn’t fix itself. You have to get in there and fix it, either by having one-on-ones to adjust their attitude or letting them go, if that’s just the right course of action. Whatever the threat is, it will not fix itself and you have to directly address it.

No one is going to care like you: It is your company, your vision, and you gave birth to it. It’s really important to you, but everyone else is going to care less than you. By definition it’s not their baby, it’s your baby. You have to make sure that you exhibit the highest level of caring for the overall business; it is a behavior they must see from you.

No one will see the threats like you will: No one is going to see the threats like you will and no one is going to be excited about eliminating them like you are. Again, you have to make sure that you exhibit the highest level of care and understanding about your business and you have to defend it, otherwise the threats will come in and take over.

If you’re leading a consulting company, there’s more to do than just being a friendly face on the business card. There are some behind the scenes responsibilities you must own because no one else can do them, but you.

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