Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth - The 7-Power Contractor

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth

What happens when your company has too many leaders all going in too many different directions?


Yes, like the old adage says, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

To expand on this, in a kitchen, there can only be one head chef. They run things and the others on the team help produce the outcome desired. You can’t expect good results if everyone is free to jump into the process.

Pardon the pun: That would be a recipe for disaster.

Here’s how and why this dynamic of “Too Many Chefs” reveals itself to me as I go about my work as a consultant at a new company:

  • There is no Org Chart to layout who is filling which box that it takes to run their company, so everyone is free to jump in anywhere they feel like and it has disastrous effects.

Note: An Org Chart is designed to make it clear to all:

    1. Which box am I in today
    2. Which box can I climb the ladder to tomorrow
    3. Who really is my boss
    4. Who can I go to for help
  • There is no one clear written Leadership Power document that has a shared:
    1. Set of defined goals with clear objective benchmarks including a timeframe for hitting these agreed upon goals
    2. What are the Golden Rules of how the business will operate
    3. What the Mission Statement is so employees know what we’re promising existing customers and prospective customers an these people will know what they can expect from the company
    4. A clear statement of what all the leaders believe are the reasons why their mutual goals will become a reality
    5. What are the Projects and Habits that need to be put into place when using what’s an agreed upon filtering mechanism to prioritize

Know that I didn’t grow up working in big corporate America. I worked in my family’s contracting business. But I had plenty of friends and acquaintances along the way who did work in big corporate America. They would share horror stories about how many had too many leaders going in all different directions, and it caused chaos to reign supreme. It was clear to them that their leaders were only focused on their own career path in a dog-eat-dog way. The mutual goal of the company’s success was at best an afterthought if given any thought at all.

To me, this should never happen in the world of contracting as most companies are far and away classified as small business. But if multiple leaders aren’t on the same page, the vacuum created and the strife that ensues will get people working there to focus only on themselves.

One of my first jobs when I begin working with a company is to get all the leaders to work on a mutual goal in the form of creating a:

  1. Master Project List
  2. Top 30
  3. Top Five

This has the positive affect of pulling together to identify both the broken things at the company as they exist when I arrive and what we can do once these are handled.

The goals of this work are to:

  1. Get on the “same page” as to what are the projects and habits that need to be in place over the next 3 to 5 years in the form of the Master Project List
  2. Get on the “same page” as to which of these should make it to the Top 30 list so they get in place in one year’s time
  3. Get on the “same page” as to which of these should make it to the Top Five list so they get worked on every week no matter what

Next up is getting on the same page about objective systems and that takes the form of standard operating procedures for each position as laid out on the Org Chart. In other words, what happens 80% of the time in each box.

With Operating Manuals (aka SOPs which stands for Standard Operating Procedures) for each box, the next thing is creating a list of the right type of meetings with the right frequency, so again, everyone is on the “same page.”

Meetings don’t waste time, only bad meetings waste time. Good meetings follow rules like my 10 Golden Rules for Meetings. They are best if they are short and follow a tight agenda. None of the meetings or coming together as a team though happen until you have manuals in place. But once you do, you still must meet weekly to read 1 to 2 pages of the manual aloud to keep it in the company’s culture or it will quickly fall to the wayside.

There are meetings that are designed to keep all the leaders on the “same page” and those are held at least held once a week and they too follow a tight agenda.

Here’s the hard thing I get to in my 10 Golden Rules for Meetings: there can only be one leader at any meeting, just like ultimately everyone can’t be in the kitchen acting like the head chef.

Following these steps alone or with the guidance of a mentor will make all the difference in how good your soup turns out or, better yet, how successful your company will be.

Leadership Power, Operating Power

Connect With Us