There are many challenges in developing a high performing consulting team. A frequent challenge includes decision making by committee and avoiding decisions and initiatives that would have provided sufficient direction to the team. Even frustration, autocratic decision making and no consultation would be a better alternative to no decision making.
One of the biggest problems is the size of the team. A large team leads to a formal and fear-of-offending attitude. This is a common theme in my experience when a leadership team is larger than 6-7 people. It is no longer a leadership team but a committee where consensus is more important than direction; where everyone is having input rather than being a functioning team with clear priorities, direction and focus.
In easyconsult and my other businesses, we have reduced the size of team and the leadership has followed. Our team has noticed the positive change, appreciated the direction and is delivering results.
Below are some of the advantages of having a small team, according to Jeffrey Phillips:
- Focus: a leader can spend more time with each person in the team and the team synergy is more likely to be produced.
- Clarity: everyone in a small team can be aware of others’ performance. Each team member understands the circumstances, the expectations, the successes and the failures.
- Cohesion: smaller teams have a greater chance to be cohesive
- Administration: more time is spent on real work and less is spent on administration of the team
- Interaction: members can interact more effectively with each other and sense a high level of commitment
- Visibility: it is harder to “hide” on a small team. The leader can easily spot who has not bought in to the project or the organisation.
Leadership is all about making decisions and providing direction to the team. Don’t swell it with numbers so that this becomes impossible. Size does matter. It is not about more people because you don’t want to offend others but rather about whether it works. I would prefer smaller but functioning rather than large and limp every day of the week.