OUR BLOG

LEADERSHIP

Who Should Be On Your Leadership Council?
When Service Firm Leaders Perfect Deliberation, They Reignite Growth
Five Reasons Service Firm Leaders Should Score Their Business Monthly
What Should You Expect From Your Service Firm Leadership Team?
Do You Have A Leadership Team Or A Leadership Council?
Ten Traits Of Organizationally Healthy Professional Service Firms
To Grow Your Professional Service Firm, Prize Culture Over Strategy
TP35: The One Tipping Point Mid-Size Service Firms Must Address To Keep Growing
Seven Reasons Most Mid-Size Service Firms Don’t Grow Very Much
Five Reasons Mid-Size Service Firms Need A New Leadership Operating Model
How Leaders Can Address The Growth Tipping Point For Mid-Sized Service Firms
Five Reasons Professional Service Leaders Should Prize EQ Over IQ
Why Mid-Size Service Firm Leadership Teams Need Collective Objectives To Grow
How To Grow Your Mid-Sized Service Firm: Jealously Protect Your Focused Energy
Why Professional Service Firms Should Consider Circle Of Seven Mentoring Networks
How A Leader’s Energy Field Impacts Team Productivity
Don’t Trade Misery For Money: How Professional Service Firms Can Leverage The Great Resignation
Strong Personality Vs. Strong Person: The Makeup Of A Leadership Council
Custer Or Marshall: Why Mid-Size Service Firms Must Choose Their Leadership Model
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Define And Defend Your Values
If You Want To Grow Your Mid-Size Service Firm, Establish A Formal Leadership Council
Want To Grow Your Professional Service Firm? Focus On The One
If You Want To Grow Your Midsize Professional Service Firm, Align Your Leaders
Why Midsize Service Firm Leaders Must Think Like Entrepreneurs To Grow
How To Grow A Mid-Size Professional Service Firm Today
Why It's Important For Great Leaders To Tell Great Stories
How Great Leaders Persuade Using Word-Pictures
How The Say-Do Ratio Influences Trusted Advisor Status And Profits
Why Service Firm Leaders Should Nurture The Entrepreneurial Instincts Of Their Top People

SALES

Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects

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WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT FROM YOUR SERVICE FIRM LEADERSHIP TEAM?

SEVEN WAYS LEADERSHIP COUNCILS POSITIVELY IMPACT PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRMS

Over the last 25 years, I’ve been privileged to serve more than 70 mid-sized professional service firms, those with 25-100 staff. One of the biggest struggles I’ve seen has been between CEOs, some of whom are also founders, and their leadership teams. CEOs often tell me that they feel like they’re the only ones who consistently take a wholistic view of the entire company and the goals they’re trying to achieve.

CEOs often try to raise the sightlines of people on their leadership team, coaching them to see the big picture and to make decisions accordingly. Sometimes these efforts are successful, but it’s often a heavy lift, requiring a lot of ongoing focused energy. The single best solution I’ve discovered is to transform leadership teams into leadership councils. If you do this, I have every reason to believe you can expect seven very positive outcomes.  

  1. Growth resurgence.
  2. Greatly reduced messaging burden.
  3. Strong partners for critical, no-turning-back, decisions.
  4. Enhanced goal achievement.
  5. Identification of problems before they do real damage.
  6. Broad-based reinforcement of your firm’s values.
  7. A force multiplier for principals and owners.

Growth Resurgence

Most mid-sized service firms can grow pretty consistently up to a point. This article talks about TP35 – a tipping point that occurs about the time a service firm hires their 35th employee. Somewhere between employee 35 and 50, something imperceptible seems to change inside the organization and the result is a growth slowdown. So many service firms I’ve worked with have struggled to get past this plateau. It’s often very frustrating to CEOs in particular.

In my experience, a leadership team is ill-equipped to break through this plateau because it’s not their charter. Most leadership teams are tasked with keeping the wheels on the bus, not breaking through growth barriers. But an invitation-only leadership council exists for only one reason—to drive the growth of the company. If your firm is willing to transform a leadership team into a leadership council, you can expect a resurgence of growth.

Greatly Reduced Messaging Burden 

Another complaint I often hear from CEOs is that they have to say the same thing over and over again and then it still seems as if people don’t get the message. Most leadership teams have a reporting-orientation—where team members report up to the leadership team about what’s happening in their department. But rarely do they report down to their direct reports, telling them what the leadership team talked about. This means the burden of communicating to all staff often falls to just a few people.

To address this problem, some firms have adopted company-wide video messages or newsletters. But the problem with these is that staff don’t get their questions answered after hearing the message. And they always have questions. The result is often uncertain staff who collectively ask the same questions of a handful of people who get worn out and frustrated.

This is where a leadership council really helps. One of the responsibilities of council members is to tell their direct reports what the leadership council talked about. This is especially important if the council made significant decisions. When I setup leadership councils for clients, I teach them to practice free-flowing information.

In this approach, council members spend the last few minutes of a session identifying the four or five things they will tell their direct reports. Council members are asked to have free-flowing information sessions with their teams within 24 hours of a council meeting. This means everyone in the organization is “in the know” at the same time.

The free-flowing information sessions are delivered in-person or via video chat, not email. This also allows direct reports to ask clarifying questions. Those questions can also be funneled back up to the leadership council to help improve future communication efforts. This model has reduced the communication burden on CEOs by up to 90%, compared to other approaches.

Strong Partners For Critical, No-Turning-Back, Decisions

Every mid-sized service firm I’ve coached came to a crossroads at some point on their journey. The leaders had to choose between just a handful of irreversible options. In these moments, smart CEOs and principals seek input from company leaders because the principals know they have blind spots. They don’t want to make decisions they’ll regret, so they try to consider things from as many different angles as possible.

Far too often, CEOs are disappointed with this process. The reason this happens is because leadership teams are typically asked to report, not to do research, analyze options and then vote for the option they think makes sense. Most leadership teams have little experience in the grueling deliberation process that is so essential to making high-stakes decisions.

But the exact opposite is true of leadership councils. When forming these invitation-only councils, I advise my clients to set expectations that members will be required to conduct research (not having to do with their department or core area of expertise). They are also expected to deliberate using a tool I call the meat grinder to expose weaknesses in any option. Finally, they’ll be asked to vote for a particular option and to provide their reasoning for that vote. The end result is that CEOs and principals have much stronger partners for high-stakes decisions.

Enhanced Goal Achievement

Most mid-sized professional service firms engage in annual strategic planning. Leaders get together, identify goals for the year, divvy up tasks between them and then commit to a number of check-in meetings for the coming year. By the first meeting, things are going okay. But by the third or fourth meeting, it’s usually pretty clear that the firm will not achieve every goal. This pattern often repeats itself, year after year. 

A much better solution is to establish a leadership council that leverages Collective Objectives instead of annual strategic planning. This article describes how Collective Objectives work and why they’re so much more effective than strategic planning. If you establish a leadership council and adopt Collective Objectives, you can expect to achieve your biggest and most important goals year after year.

Identification Of Problems

In my experience, it’s all too common for mid-sized service firms to stall-out because of internal problems. Bad behavior, poor attitudes and infighting sometimes become protracted rather than addressed quickly. Morale suffers and people leave. In most instances, these outcomes can be avoided if the problems are addressed proactively, before they do the company damage.

However, I find that most leadership team members don’t see it as their role to identify and fix these problems unless they emanate directly from their department. Far too often, behavior problems cross departmental lines. By the time the problem is identified and brought to the CEO, the damage is often already done and has been ongoing for quite some time.

This is where a leadership council really helps. One of the primary responsibilities of a leadership council is to define the organization’s values. But council members are also called upon to defend those values and to take proactive action. The outcome from this is that CEOs spend less time playing referee and organizational health remains strong, positioning the company for an extended growth run.

Broad-Based Reinforcement Of Firm Values 

One of the biggest benefits of a leadership council is broad-based reinforcement of a firm’s values. The councils that I help clients setup usually include at least seven people. These people form strong bonds between each other by telling personal stories. This enhances their affinity for each other and the company, making them even stronger allies to the CEO. The end result is that council members handle more sensitive situations that formerly only the CEO would have addressed.

Force Multiplier For Principals And Owners

One of the single biggest benefits to CEOs and principals, from establishing a leadership council, is enhanced productivity. A leadership council serves as a force multiplier, empowering C-suite executives to simply get more done. I’ve also witnessed, in many instances, a substantial improvement in their quality of life, job satisfaction and reduced stress. When a leadership council begins to fire on all cylinders, principals, owners and CEOs feel more in control of the business and spend fewer days feeling overwhelmed.

A Good Next Step

If you’d like to learn more about how a leadership council could benefit your organization, I’d like to recommend a resource. I’ve written an eBook on this topic that goes into much greater detail about the situations discussed in this article. If you found this article insightful, I know you’ll love the eBook.

About The Author

Randy Shattuck is a seasoned entrepreneur who works hand-in-hand with senior leaders of mid-size professional service firms to grow revenues, acquire clients, open new markets, increase profits and effectively position their brands.

OUR BLOG

LEADERSHIP

Who Should Be On Your Leadership Council?
When Service Firm Leaders Perfect Deliberation, They Reignite Growth
Five Reasons Service Firm Leaders Should Score Their Business Monthly
What Should You Expect From Your Service Firm Leadership Team?
Do You Have A Leadership Team Or A Leadership Council?
Ten Traits Of Organizationally Healthy Professional Service Firms
To Grow Your Professional Service Firm, Prize Culture Over Strategy
TP35: The One Tipping Point Mid-Size Service Firms Must Address To Keep Growing
Seven Reasons Most Mid-Size Service Firms Don’t Grow Very Much
Five Reasons Mid-Size Service Firms Need A New Leadership Operating Model
How Leaders Can Address The Growth Tipping Point For Mid-Sized Service Firms
Five Reasons Professional Service Leaders Should Prize EQ Over IQ
Why Mid-Size Service Firm Leadership Teams Need Collective Objectives To Grow
How To Grow Your Mid-Sized Service Firm: Jealously Protect Your Focused Energy
Why Professional Service Firms Should Consider Circle Of Seven Mentoring Networks
How A Leader’s Energy Field Impacts Team Productivity
Don’t Trade Misery For Money: How Professional Service Firms Can Leverage The Great Resignation
Strong Personality Vs. Strong Person: The Makeup Of A Leadership Council
Custer Or Marshall: Why Mid-Size Service Firms Must Choose Their Leadership Model
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Define And Defend Your Values
If You Want To Grow Your Mid-Size Service Firm, Establish A Formal Leadership Council
Want To Grow Your Professional Service Firm? Focus On The One
If You Want To Grow Your Midsize Professional Service Firm, Align Your Leaders
Why Midsize Service Firm Leaders Must Think Like Entrepreneurs To Grow
How To Grow A Mid-Size Professional Service Firm Today
Why It's Important For Great Leaders To Tell Great Stories
How Great Leaders Persuade Using Word-Pictures
How The Say-Do Ratio Influences Trusted Advisor Status And Profits
Why Service Firm Leaders Should Nurture The Entrepreneurial Instincts Of Their Top People

SALES

Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects