Over the last 10 years, I’ve built The Portfolio Partnership (TPP) on the basis of a simple value proposition. The leadership of private companies requires experienced help at an affordable price to fulfill their potential. What they didn’t need was another report from a consultant. What they often can’t afford is a fully loaded senior person with a narrow skillset. They needed a senior, talented executive with broad proven skills that could do stuff. They needed someone who had been there before as a business owner/manager, made many mistakes but emerged with a successful track record.

The next stage for these leaders varied of course from case to case. The software company requiring infrastructure to support the runaway sales line. The capital equipment company with no marketing strategy. The HR consultancy that lacked operational protocols. The technology company too reliant on the owner. The private company with capacity and money to do acquisitions but no protocols or processes to align their efforts. The travel business locked into their low margins that was delivering a world-class service. These are all real examples from the last 10 years representing companies who were struggling in their own way to scale.

Hiring a new CEO, CMO, CFO or any new senior manager is expensive and risky.

What is Fractional Senior Management?

It’s a bridge to enable scaling. It’s a way of getting to the next level in say 12 to 24 months, where it’s possible to justify one or more full time executives to join the team. Fractional Senior Management is not interim management, it’s not short term consultancy project work, nor is it career counseling and mentoring (although mentoring is a by-product). You identify one or more gaps in the senior team that’s preventing the execution of a strategic plan. It’s a senior person deployed one to two days a week to fill that gap for at least 12 months at a significantly lower cost of a fully-loaded full-time executive or executives. Examples range from COO, CFO, CMO, Sales Director, VP Corporate Development, Sales Operations, Communications Director, HR Director to in-house lawyer.

Candidate Criteria

This checklist will help you identify the right person to fulfill this key role:

  1. Possesses natural chemistry with the CEO
  2. Must have performed the role(s) in a larger private company for at least 10 years
  3. Demonstrates a high level of empathy and patience
  4. Commands authority without being overpowering
  5. Their successful track record can be reference checked
  6. Articles and blogs demonstrate the person’s expertise
  7. Superb communicator
  8. High levels of energy but believes the mantra – work in silence let your success be your noise!
  9. Demonstrates a passion for growth and allowing others around him/her to succeed
  10. Doesn’t claim to have all the answers

Objections and Responses

  1. Senior management will feel threatened by the outsider.
    The Fractional Senior Manager is there to enable full-time staff to be remarkable, to transform their bandwidth and to create a culture of success.
  2. Consultants can never have the authority and respect to achieve operational change.
    The CEO must sell the Fractional Leader into the team. All initiatives have the CEO’s blessing. Once these start and people see the impact that is happening, initial objections tend to fade away.
  3. He doesn’t understand our business.
    The value proposition isn’t domain expertise! But of course, the economics of all businesses ultimately comes down to volume and yield, no matter how complex the technology. The models we’ve built at TPP have been battled tested in almost every industry you can imagine, and we know how to deploy them with the support of a talented management team.

In What Size of Company Does it Work Best?

Here is a strange fact, the US Small Business Administration defines small as 499 employees or less. Out of 5.9 million US companies that run a payroll, only just under 19,000 are considered big with 500 employees or more. No wonder we just focus on New England. The world is dominated in every county by small companies. We’ve had great success from 20 to 1000 employee companies.


Put it this way, for the cost of a top graduate on the payroll you could have a successful senior manager driving change in your business every week of the year.

In later posts, we will discuss problems that can be solved with Fractional Leadership and how to create symbiotic relationships with the team.

The author can be reached at Ian@TPPBoston.com.

Contact form is here as well!  Link

A recent profile on Ian in the North American CA magazine – https://www.icas.com/ca-today-news/interview-ian-smith-ca