A Consultant is Not a Leader

Dirty Work – Ramsey repeated over and over to the owners that their main chef was incompetent. Ramsey did not have the power to fire the chef, even though he knew it was the only thing to do. Being a leader in an organization is great when things are going well. But when things go bad (as they often do) it’s not as much fun.

Announcing layoffs, salary cuts, and diminished hours is dreaded by most leaders and it can be easy to outsource these tasks to a consultant. When all is said and done, though, the responsibility comes back to you. When you have others take care of those nasty jobs, it casts a pall over your leadership abilities. It sends a signal that you are only willing to be a leader when things are going well, but that you are a coward when things are not. To be an effective leader, you must accept the good and the bad. Only then will you be seen as an effective leader with integrity.

Step Up – After a particularly bad evening, Ramsey asked the staff how they felt things went. The head chef replied that it went great. The assistant chef correctly asserted that it was terrible, mainly because of the head chef’s behavior. No matter how much Chef Ramsey yelled, screamed, and ranted, the behavior of the head chef did not change. The head chef felt that it was his kitchen and that Ramsey had no right to tell him what to do.

Things did not change until the owner no longer abdicated his leadership to Ramsey, who was seen as a “star”. On the last day of shooting, things were so bad that the very existence of the restaurant was threatened. That’s when the owner finally stepped in and began giving orders to his staff and to his head chef especially. Like magic, things started improving. Food was delivered on time, the head chef and the assistant began communicating, and the patrons left with a smile on their faces, ecstatically extolling the virtues of the restaurant. This would not have happened if the owner had not stepped up to the plate and finally assumed leadership instead of delegating it to a third party.

I am a consultant. I consult on leadership and communication issues in the workplace. My role is to improve my clients’ long-term condition. I am not a dog. I am not a hired gun. But most of all, I am not your replacement.

When you hire a consultant, you must get the most out of your investment. However, the only way you can achieve this is by listening, discussing, and implementing. It is not by abdicating. Beware of any consultant who wants you to forgo your leadership powers. Because no matter how convincing they are, they can never be you.

Laurent Duperval is the president of Duperval Consulting which helps individuals and companies improve people-focused communication processes. He may be reached at [email protected] or 514-902-0186.