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First Among Equals

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First Among Equals

How to Manage a Group of Professionals

Free Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Professionals are feisty, independent, self-directed individuals. That’s what makes leading a team of them such fun.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


This book is essentially a collection of practical checklists interspersed with quotations and anecdotes. It certainly meets its objective of collecting everything you need to know about managing a professional service firm’s practice group. Patrick McKenna and David H. Maister present the nuts and bolts in a straightforward format. If you feel like you could use some help to do a better job of leading your group of highly trained individuals, if you’ve just been promoted to the ranks of management and want some guidance or, worse, if you feel like you are herding cats - in Maister’s phrase - instead of leading a committed team of professional people, is pleased to recommend this complete toolbox to you.


Team Building

Are you responsible for leading a group? Perhaps this is your first management role, your first shot at being responsible for others. Now you must motivate, encourage, influence and assist. Managers handle many different kinds of groups, from committees to teams to loose aggregations of soloists. Professionals are harder to manage and direct than non-professionals. Professionals are trained to be skeptical, to question, analyze and provide alternatives. So the first step in leading a group of professionals is to be clear and explicit about what kind of group it will be, how it will work and what rules will govern it. Disciplined adherence to rules and standards is a formula for success.

In effective groups, the members understand the reason for the group, its purpose and priorities. They trust each other’s skills and competence enough to rely on each other. They are able to share credit, listen to each other, exchange viewpoints, respect each other’s time and help or coach each other. Usually, a group of professionals will know what needs to be done and how to do it. The managerial challenge is getting them to work together. Individuals who tend to focus...

About the Authors

Patrick J. McKenna is an expert on managing professional service firms, a partner in Canada-based Edge International and the author of two Canadian Top 10 management bestsellers: Beyond Knowing and Herding Cats. David H. Maister is the author of Managing the Professional Service Firm, True Professionalism and Practice What You Preach and co-author of The Trusted Advisor.

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