Leadership Management Trust

the not-so-silent partner(s)

[Bob Burman, race car driver] (LOC)

Have you ever found yourself frustrated in the face of someone sitting in the proverbial back seat who is intent on telling you what to do, but doesn’t like to grab hold of the steering wheel and take charge?

I have.


They are also the type of person who avoids all responsibility when the yoghurt hits the fan.

“It’s not my fault.”

Everyone wants to get it right.

And if you make a mistake you don’t want the World and his wife to know.

But, in any endeavour, nothing is achieved by getting it right all the time.

Someone has to be first, and, guess what, they are just as likely to fail as the next person.

Marketing is an obvious example.

Who the hell knows whether your new campaign, that piece of carefully crafted content or that awesome video is going to result in new or any business?

Yes, you might have a track record of success, but, in most cases, you won’t have enough data or market intelligence to predict the Return on Investment (ROI).

In professional practice too often the (make that ALL) p-a-r-t-n-e-r-s think they know best. Is it any wonder that most firms of a certain size have opted for an executive committee to reduce the friction in making decisions?

But even said committee will have to regularly deal with the hot breath of one partner or another who takes issues with their decision-making.

“Damn they are at it again.”

I am not advocating a system where certain (non status) partners should be ‘seen and not heard’ but firms need to get much smarter at the way they make their decisions: strategic, operational and tactical.

You will often hear the poor old Managing Partner refer to his/her fellow partners as feral beasts. And yes there is a delicate balance to be struck between autocracy and chaos management, but there is no point having a system where one group has been entrusted to make the majority of decisions only to be confronted week in week out with the usual partner Harumph – “I told you so!”

On a grander scale, it is critically important for firms to agree the mission of the firm – “the best firm in [area]” – and then to trust the executive committee to make the right decisions thereof. If you keep giving ground to the not-so-silent partners then as fast as you make a decision the market will conspire against you, and you will be back where you started.

Even if your firm is not of a size where you have an executive committee, it is beyond doubt that the more people you introduce into the equation the slower and more unwieldy will be the decision-making.

Of course, there is a risk that you breed dissent, but if you keep allowing the broth to be ruined, then you will never gain the traction necessary to fight the market that is moving against you.

Speed is your greatest ally and the quicker you master it, the more likely it is you will survive the storm.

Don’t give into the temptation to please everyone, show leadership and trust to the soup.