In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic globally affected us in every area of life. Even the corporate world was not spared. Two years after its onset, a huge shift has become apparent in the way in which businesses do business, and in many ways, it is a good thing. 

As new trends emerge in the C-Suite, we are finding that fractional professionals are uniquely equipped to help in coping with the “new normal” of a post-pandemic world. 

Deborah Coviello, known as the Drop-in CEO has helped countless organizations and businesses through operational transformation. She recently spoke to yorCMO co-founder and host of the Fractional C-Suite Retreat Podcast, where they discussed how, according to her, the majority of organizations are simply trying to reach their targets from the wrong perspective. 

The Solution: A Shift in Mindset 

A change in mindset means a change in the question asked. It’s no longer, “How can we achieve this result?” Instead, it becomes, “What does it take to become our customer’s favorite?”

It’s a shift from tactical thinking to strategic thinking. When this happens, teams will start pitching their ideas, begin thinking more creatively, and work together in a cross-functional way. It’s a mindset shift that can produce bigger and greater opportunities for all of them. 

While, yes, results are still measured and important, bringing people together and gaining their trust will, in the end, lead to merited loyalty and enthusiasm. And these two things attract customers. 

To create a team-wide mindset shift, The Drop-in CEO recommends looking internally at setting the right goals and cross-training team members in different areas of the business. Cross-functionality leads to the mingling of teams so that everyone can learn from and support each other. 

Fractional Professionals: The Drop-In CEO

As the Drop-In CEO, Deb enjoys getting to partner with the COO or the CFO of an organization through a uniquely “dropped in” perspective. The Drop-In CEO can drop in and objectively look at the collective input of the organization and the talents of their team. Then using her expertise, she develops a plan to make their desired transformation a reality.

As an experienced Drop-In CEO, Deb considers herself a sort of chameleon, camouflaging herself to suit the COO’s needs. She is a fractional leader who helps the business before, during, and after the transformation. If things get tough, she has a reliable network of exceptional peers from the Fractional Professionals Association who are always ready to help save the day. 

The Role and Benefits of Fractional Professionals

Fractional Professionals can provide organizations with the agility they need to meet their needs – while still focusing on their core competency. Whether experts in marketing, technology, or services, Fractional Professionals focus on what they are good at and provide a skilled evaluation of the work that is needed.

Many companies hire full-time employees without questioning the value they provide, but underperforming employees mean company loss. Companies need to reassess the value of full-time employees, and the Fractional Model offers an innovative solution. 

The Fractional Model allows professionals to focus one-hundred percent of their attention on their core competencies. These professionals are available on a retainer or project basis, but the work they offer is always intentional and of high value. 

Oftentimes, a Fractional Leader provides a greater impact than any full-time employee of the company. This is because of their external nature to the day-to-day. In other words, what you get is a hybrid coach-mentor relationship, working with your company at a high level. 

The Challenge Fractional Professionals Face 

For Deb, one of the most frequent challenges fractional professionals face is feeling left out of the team. No matter how much they love you and enjoy working with you, you might still feel like an outsider. However, delivering on results and outcomes often changes and strengthens the relationship, as you celebrate with and express gratitude for each other. 

Other times, the project ends and the communication stops. Although it is a relationship that requires nurturing, in Deb’s experience, “past clients feel like friends I haven’t talked with in a while, but we still feel the same way about each other whenever we meet again.” 

She also mentioned the importance of recognizing the fine line a Fractional Professional must walk between doing the necessary work and becoming “the evil consultant.”

To combat this, she has designed an approach to incorporating a fractional professional into an organization that she calls “the seven compass points.”

This approach can be summed up as building strong, trustful, and meaningful relationships inside the organization and becoming a strong leader that truly values their team. A value that has nothing to do with the results they provide and everything to do with their humanity and capabilities. 

The Future Of Fractional Professionals 

Changing demographics and the overall economy predict a future where fractional work is expected to increase significantly. With The Great Resignation, it’s apparent that people are more reluctant than ever to go back to corporate life. Former employees are instead developing entrepreneurial skills and learning to build a business for themselves. 

“It is a smart model (the Fractional Model),” Deb says, “because businesses need to focus on their core competency. If they are large enough and can have full-time resources, kudos, but they may not be necessarily leveraging the best way. Businesses should think about fractional work as a positive change to their business model.” 

In terms of finding a true fractional professional that you can trust, she has noticed that many C-suite leaders don’t network as much as they should. These leaders should look to become part of C-Suite Boards of Advisors or professional networking groups. She believes they’ll find that if they are having an issue, chances are high that somebody else in their network has had the same one. 

The answers, according to Deb, lie in warm referrals, more networking, and joining groups like the Fractional Professionals Association.

There, C-Suite leaders can start learning and building relationships – without worrying about transactions or sales. If they don’t need them now, they may later. 

This article was produced from the interview with Deb Coviello featured on Episode #3 of the “Fractional C-Suite Retreat” podcast, a yorCMO podcast hosted by Joseph Frost, yorCMO co-founder, speaker and founder of The Fractional Professionals Association.