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Practice What You Preach

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Practice What You Preach

What Managers Must Do to Create a High Achievement Culture

Free Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Do well by being good. Firms that embody honesty, integrity and high values make more money. It’s that simple.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Heavy but invaluable reading, this book presents the results of author David H. Maister’s study of 139 offices of 29 professional service - more specifically, marketing and communications - firms in 15 countries. His objective was to identify the attitudes that correlate most strongly with financial success. He found what’s been known all along - that financial success correlates very strongly with the perceived good character and integrity of management. When employees believe that management practices what it preaches, they seem to give extra effort and get astonishing results. The idea that character counts as much as, or perhaps more than, structure and corporate policy will be hard for many to accept. It takes courage, commitment, faith and humility to become the kind of person this study recommends. But this information shows that, to contradict baseball player Leo Durocher, nice guys finish first.


The Study

A new study showed conclusively that when management teaches - and lives - a corporate culture of fairness, trust and strong values, employees succeed. The study examined some 6,500 employees in 139 offices of 29 firms pursuing five different kinds of business in 15 countries.

The firms are subsidiaries of one publicly traded marketing company. Some offices had as few as 10 employees, some had more than 300. All of them engage in businesses related one way or another to marketing and communications. Yet the firms are all but independent in many respects, self-directed and free to adopt whatever management style they choose.

What is true of these firms is apt to be true of any professional service firm - that is, the attitudes that correlate with success in marketing and communications probably correlate equally well with success in law, architecture or other disciplines.

The purpose of the study was to determine what, if any, attitudes and behaviors correlate with financial success. The topic of culture and profitability has been the subject of debate and analysis for some time. It is now fairly clear that corporate culture can affect profitability...

About the Author

David H. Maister is the author of Managing the Professional Service Firm, True Professionalism and, with Charles H. Green and Robert M. Galford, The Trusted Adviso. A native of Great Britain, he holds degrees from the University of Birmingham, the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School, where he was a professor for seven years.

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