The necessity and efficiency of consultants are regularly questioned by the academics and clients who hire these consultants. According to a study by Kakabadse et al (2006), an investigation was made about how a business consultant adapts to their role and contribute to achieve their client's business goals.
This study concluded that the boundary between business consultancy and other "customer-related" practices such as mentoring, counseling or coaching appear narrow. It has been demonstrated that consultants themselves agree on saying that sometimes their role within the client's organisation is unclear. According to McLarty and Robinson (1998), past decade has seen an extraordinary broadening in management consultancy, but the thing that should be kept into the mind is Service Provider is different from consultants. The role of business consultants and the services that they provide is complex and distinct in nature.
According to Drucker (2004) every leader has different characteristics with respect to their
Personalities, strengths, weaknesses, values and belief, but one thing they have common in between them and that is they get the right things done at the right time. Some of them are born effective but some evolve this effectiveness through discipline, the discipline that can be learnt and this is the time when the business consultant comes into the picture.
As suggested by Kakabadse et al. (2006), there are various roles of Business consultants that help in achieving an organization's goals and improve the quality of leadership and team working.
- Business consultants assist their clients in selecting the appropriate strategies from the plethora of available choices.
- Consulting the clients towards fast-changing environment.
- Consultants fulfil number of roles that he or she judges to be appropriate for the client, the situation, and his or her own style.
- Consultant's role is of helping the client become a sufficiently competent diagnostician in order to make the client more aware of the problems for themselves as well as generate any solution if they are to have ownership and take responsibility.
Leadership and Teamwork
According to Sheard and Kakabadse (2004), the role of an organization's management is to handle both the process of transformation within available resource and making necessary organizational environment to make it work again. Each and every one of us is accustomed to work in a group or a team which have a common interest or common task and operate in a specific organizational context.
As said by Senge (1990), the tendency of an individual worker saying "I will work harder" is completely impractical in this era as harder an individual employee works the more work there is to do. Well-intentioned individuals who says, "I must work harder for my employer", when the teams of which they are a part fail to achieve the objectives they were set. The cost goes straight to the company bottom line as product development costs over-run, and decent, hard-working people are signed-off sick suffering from stress-related illness.
Working harder is not a solution for increasing the productivity. The difference between manual-worker productivity and knowledge-worker productivity was considered by Drucker (1999). With production context, a new machine can save a work of 10 manual workers and hence the productivity may increase, however in knowledge-based context management productivity, research and development productivity are intangible, and hence it is more difficult for an organization to improve it by simply investing capital in these area. The observations of Whetten (1989) states that any senior management that can develop high performing teams within the organization at the right time will directly contribute to make the organization achieve its long term goals and productivity.
According to Sheard and Kakabadse (2004), there are two types of Leaders, one is called as "Transformational Leaders" and the other one is called as "Transactional Leaders". Transformational leaders creates a vision of the future and then invest the resources considerably to shape the present to achieve the vision, they show how past has reshaped itself to present. Transformational leaders consistent and focused with their vision and empowers others to take part to achieve this vision. On the other hand Transactional leaders as described by Burns (1978), are individuals those having skills and ability to handle more day to day, operational transactional of daily life for ex. Finishing the meeting within time limit, conducting appraisals, etc. A leader should determine which of these two approach to follow by emphasizing on their inclination and aspirations.
Leadership in a context of group work or teamwork is explained by Kakabadse (1991); he discovered basic six factors that affect the cohesive force within the group members.
- Key forum for dialogue
- Reacting to each other
- Opportunity costs
- The way you say it
- Style and philosophy of management
As seen above, the team members has to positively engage themselves into team building activity, a lack of respect and trust can lead to disintegrate the team into smaller more favorable groups. To avoid this interpersonal conflicts due to lack of trust and respect, Eisenhardt et al. (1997) came with six tactics as follows:-
- Work with more, rather than less, information and debate on the basis of facts
- Develop multiple alternatives to enrich the level of debate
- Shared, commonly agreed goals
- Inject humor into the decision process
- Maintain a balanced power structure
- Resolve issues without forcing consent
According to Goffee and Jones (1996), the conflict can be more minimized by dividing the teams based on the characteristics of organizational culture in terms of sociability and solidarity. For increasing the sociability of the organization, they came up with following recommendations:-
- Promote the sharing of ideas, interests and emotions by recruiting compatible people who naturally seem likely to become friends
- Increase social interaction amongst employees by arranging casual gatherings inside and outside the office
- Reduce formality between employees
- Limit hierarchical differences
- Act like a friend yourself, and set the example for geniality and kindness by caring for those in trouble
- Develop awareness of competition, through briefings and other means of communication
- Create a sense of urgency
- Stimulate the will to win
- Encourage commitment to shared corporate goals.
According to Bunker et al. (2002), one third of the senior executives struggle at some point due to an emotional imbalance, inability to make an effective team, inability to regulate their own emotions at the time stress bursts and absence of good relationship with their peers.
As a leader in an organization, one should always keep open for developing the leadership skills and abilities. A consultant will be always willing to help the management of an organization to achieve the organizational goals but at the same time the managers need to develop the necessary managerial competencies to grasp the ideas and solutions put by the consultant. For this they need to undergo some technical training. Getting motivated for attending the training is different thing, actually getting ready for the training is different.
Hannah and Avolio (2010), using different models measured the factors that affect the leadership development readiness and came up with some recommendation to increase the readiness of the leaders towards developing their leadership skills:-
- Individual Differences Promoting Motivation to Develop
- Individual Differences Promoting Ability to Develop
This can be done by tapping into the Interest and goals of an individual, Goal orientation that means to make them believe that they can change and develop indeed and Development efficacy.
This can be done by making the leaders self-aware and promoting their self-concept clarity ability, Leader complexity which tells how efficiently a leader integrates various sources and types of information and Meta-cognitive ability that enables the leader for richer processing and more powerful reasoning.
As per Sum Chau (2008), "It has been recognized that the competitive advantage of a company is important, and so is the way of managing it." Related to this are the issues of company performance, organizational effectiveness, and the processes/enablers for delivering these services. A key consideration for the latter is how teams are managed (such as team strategy).
As seen from the below diagram, the company's performance, team strategy and organizational effectiveness overlaps, that means there are some parts in all these three sectors that needs a common supervision. This common portion is managed by a team of Strategic Performance Management that is nothing but a group of efficient leaders that constitutes Strategic Operations, Middle Management and Top management.
As discussed above, the Leadership and Teamwork principles will be applied to a case study of Traditional Turbine Company from the paper of Sheard and Kakabadse (2004). Harry joined the company as an engineering director and started managing a project. The reason behind this promotion was the ability of Harry to produce something that was manufactured based on the customer's need. This involved the time for talking with clients, showing them the prototype, interacting with them, etc. fixing to a plan that would give most cost effective goods.
Harry told to his CEO that there is this mess in the company; the mess was obsolete product range. The contracts that were made were limiting the selling of the turbines into many other standard applications. The designs were badly made, more expensive than needed and of not a very good match with the requirement of the clients.
Over next six months or so Harry worked on this drawback without being in any time pressure, by this time Harry got to know various sales and financial directors most of them being his peers. Harry started knowing the company better and seen a decline in sales recently. Harry had to accompany various sales persons for some occasion for technical presentations and they went along very nicely. After some time Harry came to know that the company did not have an axial exhaust turbine, Harry started working on it.
After six months in the company, Harry was given a responsibility of new project, the board of directors were not sure, specially CEO of the company, whether harry would be able to complete the specified contract on time but still all gave it an approval. The sales forecast if delivered on time would revitalize the company and hence the project was given the approval from the board of directors. It was the biggest project Harry and his chief designer had ever worked so they decided to the best and only way to handle this was to form a team of best technical specialists. They started by screening and selecting people from different groups and teams from the company. Harry kicked off with the first meeting that did not go well, the conclusion of the meeting was that from downward to an axial exhaust was impossible and hence Harry found it difficult to stand his grounds.
Harry arranged a industrial visit to one of its peer companies who produced axial exhaust, and came back with full set of drawings of an axial exhaust, but it was of no use as per his team mates suggested, they suggested we could do far better than this as it's a complete rubbish if looked from the point of design.
The meeting started to begin, but the meeting was more hilarious than being a formal meeting, peoples started coming out of the meeting room laughing instead of getting frustrated by the limited progress. Team members started coming out of their comfort zone and started working on the project with a light heart.
After three months, Harry had to purchase some items, but provision for purchasing goods before stating the pre-provisioning was prohibited, so Harry and other directors didn't bother to ask the CEO and went ahead with the buying. The effect of this was, it had never happened in the history of Traditional Turbine Company, failure to win the contract after the completion of the project would result in Harry being fired. No one wanted to take the responsibility for that. The result of this was engineering team started to work double the shifts.
Then one day Harry realized that they did not have the foundation drawings completed before the contracts were placed, they could not go ahead without this drawing being completed, suddenly the focus changed to complete this work that would normally take six months but in this case took four weeks to complete.
To avoid the three months delay that takes to know what actually the sales team has sold, the chief engineer and Harry went along to write the contract themselves. After three months first contract was placed, and two weeks later the second. They called for the meeting with sales team and all went right with no unpleasant surprises for the sales team. The engineering team now had nine months to deliver the axial turbine and no one had a doubt that this would be the best turbine in the history of the company.
The team now was divided into two teams for two different contracts. Both teams working on different contracts, having one project manager each and some junior engineers to ensure the momentum on the key areas is not lost. Now Harry had low key in the project, normally dealing with project managers and directors, his place was taken by chief designer. The turbines were made with same design and enough flexibility to accommodate the two contracts. Harry was hardly running the project; Harry was only consulted by chief designer only if needed. The project managers were kept out of day to day management processes, it was left for the product development team members and chief designer. Contract's Design review was a legal requirement, and was reviewed in 20 minutes by Harry in every two weeks. The project was self-managing. The Traditional Turbine Company lacked innovation and creativity that Harry had given to it.
The two contracts were given on time and delivered to the site on time as well. Went in warranty on time and came back 12 months later with no contract claims. This was the phenomenon that had never happened in the history of the company before.
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