Item description for First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals by Patrick J. McKenna & David H. Maister...
Outline ReviewCompetently managing a group of peers is unquestionably among the most difficult of workplace tasks, but key steps that produce success are laid out so clearly by consultants Patrick J. McKenna and David H. Maister in First Among Equals that even those who completely lack experience should find the process feasible and effective. McKenna and Maister focus on leading teams of professionals--often composed of people who don't feel like they are part of a team or in need of leadership--by transforming the way managers assume responsibility and direct members. "Success in helping your group succeed is mostly about you. Not them," they write. Their book starts by explaining how to prepare for the job ahead, for example, by meeting informally with participants and displaying sincere interest in things that matter to them. It then explores coaching the individuals involved (offering methods for gaining acceptance, building rapport, assisting underperformers and dealing with prima donnas) and guiding the collective group (by developing rules, building trust, invigorating meetings, and resolving conflicts). Finally, it proposes measures for continued success, such as integrating new hires and gauging performance. Dozens of self-assessment questionnaires and diagnostic tests help make this an exceptionally practical guidebook on a critical but oft-neglected topic. --Howard Rothman
Whether you have just been appointed as a group leader or you are a battle-scarred veteran, you know that managing professional people is difficult!
Intelligent professionals are often free-agents, accustomed to having autonomy to work on grueling assignments with little supervision, and always relentlessly demanding of themselves and others. How do you actually add value as a group leader, or even get these people to accept your guidance?
How do you deal with those oh-so-talented but oh-so-annoying professionals who exhibit attitude problems or are just exceedingly difficult to work with, when you need them but they needle you?
How do you avoid unsettling group meetings where you meet for no clear purpose; people drift in and out at random times; the power players dominate discussions; and everyone brings along their favorite axe to grind?
How do you actually inspire your group to bone-satisfying performance?
In this strikingly unique "playbook," professional service experts Patrick J. McKenna and David H. Maister provide real-world examples, a wealth of self-evaluation materials, and concrete advice on stressful day-to-day management issues that every leader of professionals will welcome. The authors offer penetrating insights into the basics of coaching, dividing their attention equally between energizing and guiding the individual performer and the group.
There has never been a book quite like this. First Among Equals is essential reading for practice leaders and group heads in the professional sector as well as managers of highly talented, technical knowledge workers anywhere. The lessons and learnings presented here will give you insights and action tips to help you provoke and inspire your people to their full potential.
Promise Angels is dedicated to bringing you great books at great prices. Whether you read for entertainment, to learn, or for literacy - you will find what you want at promiseangels.com!
Patrick J. McKenna is a widely recognized expert on managing professional service firms and a partner in Edge International in Edmonton, Canada, a consulting firm serving professional service firms throughout the world. Mr. McKenna is the coauthor of two Canadian Top 10 management bestsellers, "Beyond Knowing" and "Herding Cats."
Reviews - What do customers think about First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals?
Full of Cliches Mar 13, 2006
I was very disappointed by the book. Not only is it full of cliches, but some of the advice is actually bad. Like buying a billboard to celebrate an employee's performance? In a professional services firm???
Some great material that I can share & use as a refresher Jan 22, 2004
Gripe no. 1 : I hope its not going to become a common occurrence in business books, but there were 7 pages of 35 advance reviews (but 5 of them were only 2 lines which said little). Let me decide for myself if the book is any good - show me the product. Also, I work in IT, but there didn't seem to be a single reviewer with an IT background?
The book looks at the leader/manager/coach of a disparate group of professionals, assuming a mix of seniors & juniors.
I think the book isn't just for the leader/manager/coach - because in many such groups today, there can be rotation (time-based or task-based) where any of the group of professionals might be called upon to perform the leadership / coaching / mentoring role. So the book should be read by all members of the team. Also the leader is human - they might not be 'doing it right as per the book', and it could be useful for the others (they are all equals after all) to be informed to provide that guidance/correction.
The Sections are laid out well : getting ready; coaching the individual; coaching the team; building for the future.
It classes individuals into 4 styles : amiable, analytical, driver, expressive (I tend more towards the expressive), and how to work with each.
I also like the way it addressed underperforming members, how to correct the problem rather than try to rationalise it out of existence.
Because professionals jealously guard their autonomy, reserving the right to work as they see fit, professional groups have a greater-than-average tendency to become ill-disciplined - and thus a whole chapter is dedicate to how to run a meeting of such individuals.
I work in such a group, where there are 20 of us, probably 50:50 seniors & juniors (though we don't refer to ourselves in those terms).
Gripe no. 2 : However, one thing missing explicitly from the book is if there are any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats from a geographically disparate or culturally diverse group?
My group is spread across 2 continents, 5 different timezones, with only 2 hours in the day when our extended workday (8am-6pm) coincides. We comprise at least 5 different nationalities & religions, and it seems many more political viewpoints. But time and time again, this material seemed to assume that this was a relatively homogeneous group, everyone was coming together physically in the same room, or at least, didn't even consider that people might be in the same geographical locations but be on the phone, and thus unable to see each others body language. My group only get together in the same room twice a year. We've evolved techniques over the 7 years we've been together to accommodate this, but I would have appreciated it more if this modern reality had been addressed?
I also liked the discussion on the maximum size of the group, and one correspondents rule of thumb that the group is too big if he can't tell you the name of everyone's spouse/significant other & what that person does for a living (assuming its OK culturally to ask for that information - in some cultures it's a no-no).
There's an excellent wrap-up where the dozens of checklist (don't let the apparent volume put you off - it's not that bad) are summarised and classified, and you are reminded in which chapters they are to be found.
Overall I think my group is doing quite well 80% of what is in the book, with maybe 10% that we wouldn't agree with, leaving us 10% that we could improve upon. I'm going to recommend it to everyone else.
Packed with Knowledge! Oct 15, 2003
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, we are pleased to recommend this complete toolbox to you.
Not as good as the ADV Nov 26, 2002
I had high expectation from this book. However, after reading the first couple of chapters, I'm disappointed. This book, in a lot of parts, repeats what other books say, in particular "Managing the Professional Service Firm". If you read Maister's book before, you will be disappointed.
Not Just Lawyers Oct 27, 2002
Great book on inspiring and steering a professional group by design rather than by charisma. For the imaginative person, the book could be applied to any group of professionals working together - whether in business, government, or church/Mission.