The Antithesis of the Managing Partner: Management by Committee

Marc Rosenberg, CPAMarc Rosenberg, CPA / Jul 8, 2020

There is an intuitive notion that comes to partners that goes something like this: “Let’s all get together and form a firm that will make us all more successful than any of us could be individually.  We’ll follow the principles of democracy by dividing up the management duties so that no one is overburdened. The partners will make decisions as a group, thereby avoiding vesting too much power in one person.”

Management by committee is doomed to fail. This list refutes the excuses partners often give for favoring management by committee.


4 Reasons for Management By Committee & Why They Don’t Work

  1. We don’t want one person with too much power. As a democracy, we all want a vote.
    • Doesn’t work because a business cannot be run effectively as a democracy.  Someone needs to be in charge. Management by committee waters down decisions and lends itself to endless procrastination.
  2. None of us has the charisma to be the MP.
    • Charisma isn’t required, as Jim Collins said in his book Good to Great, “Great leaders act with quiet calm & determination, relying on inspired standards, not charisma, to motivate.”
  3. No one has time to be MP. Splitting up the admin time spreads the burden to all of us.
    • Not true, because when partners do admin work, they lose money for the firm. Instead of partners doing partner-level work, they spend large chunks of time doing the work of a COO or firm administrator, who earns far less than a partner.
  4. Our rainmaker would be our best MP, but we’ll lose money if we take him or her away from selling.
    • On the contrary, a rainmaker who has the skills to manage the firm will make everyone else more effective at business development.  Besides, MPs should continue wearing their rainmaker hats while they manage the firm.

Line partners should welcome the presence of a managing partner because it (a) ensures that at least someone is making the firm their #1 client,  (b) keeps them out of tedious admin tasks that can be performed more effectively by lower-paid people and (c) allows them to focus on the two things that matter most: taking great care of clients and staff.

This is an excerpt from Marc Rosenberg’s new book, The Role of the Managing Partner: The Definitive Guide to CPA Firm Leadership. Order your copy today!

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1 Comment

  1. Jim Metzler on July 9, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Marc , always spot on. Great writer!

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