Fractional vs Consultant (Karina Mikhli)

Now that "fractional" is more popular and in the news, it is important to understand what the difference between that and consulting is.

I was recently part of an Operator's Guild panel on just this topic, and as part of our presentation deck, created the below table to highlight the differences between all the types of non-traditional leadership roles:

To put it simply, there is no difference between a fractional CXO and their full-time counterpart except that the fractional will be part-time and therefore have other work, whether other fractional or consulting work. I personally do a combination of fractional COO work and workflow consulting.

And fractional is always a leadership role, although not necessarily executive level, and needs to be synonymous with that. 

Another way to look at the difference between fractionals and consultants is through two more lenses: what are they hired for and what their focus has to be.

  1. Consultants are hired for their skills; they may or may not be leaders but that is secondary. For fractionals, both skills and leadership ability are equally important since for the fractional to succeed, he or she needs to be able to make the most of their limited time and to bring out the best from their team (ie, be a multiplier, as I discussed in the previous post).
  2. Since consultants are project-based, their focus must be on their deliverable, whether that is a project or a plan. Fractionals, on the other hand, need to be equally focused on the impact to the company and team (including looking for opportunities to develop their team) given that they are leaders representing that company.
I know these debates will continue until there are enough of us that agree to what fractional is or is not, and the sooner we do, the better it is for all us fractionals.

Before I go, since our volunteer leadership team keeps growing and I wanted an efficient way for them to both get credit and be known, I've added a page to our site where you can see who they are. The current page does not reflect our entire volunteer committee, so be sure to check back.

And next week you'll finally get to hear from one of our contributors, so definitely check back for that. 

Until next time.


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