Summary of Leading Professionals

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Professor Laura Empson of London’s Cass Business School and Harvard Law School reports on intensive research into how to lead professional firms, such as law offices, and complex organizations, such as hospitals and universities. Her scholarly work, packed with citations and cross-references, details how leadership functions in a professional services environment. This layered study, funded by Great Britain’s Economic and Social Research Council, includes findings from interviews with 500 professionals in 16 countries. Empson’s exemplary and surprisingly engaging text could be a go-to guide to organizing and managing professional firms. getAbstract recommends her insights to professionals in leadership positions, to those aspiring to such roles and to academics studying the operations of professional firms.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why leading a professional firm is so difficult,
  • What constitutes a “leadership constellation” and
  • What 10 paradoxes confront professional firms.

About the Author

Laura Empson directs the Centre for Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School in London and is a senior research fellow at Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession.



Managing a Professional Firm  

Leading a professional organization – a law firm, an accounting firm, an engineering firm, a management consulting firm, a university, a religious organization, a hospital, and so on – is hugely difficult. Authority within professional firms is ambiguous and diffuse, members of such firms are idiosyncratic, and internal interpersonal relationships are complex and confusing.

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