Locating the right type of consulting firm to further improve the effectiveness of your top team isn't always an easy job. There are a number of distinct types of providers. Understanding the differences between each is important if you are to create lasting positive change.
This brief article will help you distinguish between each type of provider and select the most appropriate firm to work with your top team.
I. Gurus: I only know of a couple of gurus who work with senior leadership teams, but they work above-the-surface, i.e. on a conscious level and don't get to the root causes of issues. The challenge is they can be like a whirlwind, coming in, sprinkling their ‘magic dust’ and then departing. The issue is their ‘magic dust’ doesn’t always last that long as there is no embedding of new behaviours and their ‘ego’ can cloud the effectiveness of their work. Conclusion: Good for short-term motivational boosts.
II. Former CEO/C-level executive turned consultant: There are a number of recently retired executives who have established themselves as independent consultants. Although they are well meaning, they rarely have the relevant psychological know-how to tackle the deeper issues and their work is often biased by their own experience. However, executive team’s do tend to like these consultants as they feel they are “one of us”. Conclusion: Typically their strengths are in mentoring, not top team development.
III. Executive coaches who propose team coaching: Team coaching (a form of group talking therapy) is just one approach in a raft of possible approaches that can be deployed when working with senior leadership teams. Conclusion: Team coaching shouldn’t be relied on as the sole approach.
IV. Trainers/team builders: Their approaches can be outdated and sometimes irrelevant, for example Tuckerman’s model (forming, storming, norming, preforming) was fine in the more stable business environment of the 1960s when first developed, and is still okay for certain types of teams today, but not for the senior leadership team of a large organisation where other dynamics come to the fore. Conclusion: Better for junior to mid-management level.
V. ‘Deeply’ Psychological/New age’ consultants: I’ve met a few, and attended some of their sessions. They explore a range of topics from ‘rights of passage’ to ‘deep reflections’. Conclusion: Some of their work can be relevant, but not in the early stages of a programme and not in isolation; and not for the types of challenges we have been discussing.
VI. Specialist firms that focus on senior leadership teams: Providing they have the relevant psychological know-how (clinical psychodynamic), previous senior-level business experience and track record, then these are the better consulting firms to work with. Vantage Hill Partners fits into this category.
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