Today we are talking about leading your consulting business and I’m going to use the analogy of being the mayor of a city. This is important because I don’t want you to think that running a consulting business happens on accident or all by itself. Your job is to lead the consulting business and not just be a consultant to clients.
Building a community. The mayor’s job is to build a community. The citizens of a city are just like the employees of your company. Citizens need to work together in a city so the right things happen at the right time and everybody gets what they need. Your job as the mayor (leader) is to provide resources to those people so they can work together. Your job is to provide structure to help people work together. Your job is not to do every job in the city. Being everywhere doesn’t make sense, not to mention impossible. Your job is to lead the city and be the mayor.
Fire Department. The fire department puts out fires. Those things that are urgent and burning are taken care of by the fire department. The fire department is also a rescue service. If someone is stuck in a building, it’s the fire department that’s trained in navigating those buildings so they can get that person down safely. At times, the fire department even provides emergency medical assistance. They respond quickly when someone needs help and they care for that person on site. The fire department is under the mayor’s leadership, but the mayor is not personally responsible for delivering each and every service. In fact, it is unfair to expect one person to have expertise and availability in each of these areas.
Police Department. This is another service that the mayor would preside over. The police department reminds us of the rules. The police department helps remind us of the rules regarding driving on the highway, entering someone’s home, and interacting with another person’s property. Without their presence, we may forget (or discard) their importance. The police help remind us of how to behave so that the city is safe for all of us. For the people who don’t want to follow the rules, the police administer punishment, thus removing them from our healthy community.
The police also serve as an escort service. If there is a funeral or dignitary that comes to town, the police help escort that person efficiently. In a business sense, there are projects that need to be done quickly and you need a process to turn the primary streetlights green and the other streetlights red, so that we can get this particular project where it needs to go. Again, the mayor’s job is to provide for the police department, but the mayor cannot be the police department.
Hospital. Another example is the hospital system, which takes care of people when they get sick. The hospital cares for people when they need emergency care. So if someone has been shot, is missing a leg, or had severe eye injury, then they can be rushed to the hospital where people are prepared to care for them. The hospital also helps us understand preventive care in order to prevent certain emergencies from happening in the future. The mayor’s job is not to be the hospital. The mayor’s job is to make sure that hospitals exist, so that these kinds of services can happen.
In connection to the business environment, if there are employees that are sick, feel weary about their job, fatigued by the latest assignment, or who are panicked by a work related emergency, then they can go to the “hospital”. They can go to human resources, their supervisor, or their boss to get help with that particular issue. They can also get preventive care by having a conversation on how to not get overwhelmed the next time this issue comes about.
These kinds of things need to be happening inside your company, but it is not your job to do all of these things. That is the point here. The mayor’s job is to preside over the city, the same way it is your job to preside over your business. You have to make sure that there is a structure in place that keeps your environment healthy, so that the good work that needs to be done can be done. No one else can do this job but you, so you have to make sure that you stay focused on it.