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When Professionals Have to Lead: A New Model for High Performance [Kindle Edition]

Thomas J. DeLong , John J. Gabarro , Robert J. Lees
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For too long, professional services firms have relied on the “producer-manager” model, which works well in uncomplicated business environments. However, today’s managing directors must balance often conflicting roles, more demanding clients, tougher competitors, and associates with higher expectations of partners at all levels.

When Professionals Have to Lead presents an overarching framework better suited to such complexity. It identifies the four critical activities for effective PSF leadership: setting strategic direction, securing commitment to this direction, facilitating execution, and setting a personal example. Through examples from consulting practices, accounting firms, investment banks, and other professional service organizations, industry veterans DeLong, Gabarro, and Lees show how this model works to:
• Align your firm’s culture and key organizational components.
• Satisfy your clients’ needs without sacrificing essential managerial responsibilities.
• Address matters of size, scale, and complexity while maintaining the qualities that make professional services firms unique.

A valuable new resource, this book redefines the role of leadership in professional services firms.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thomas J. DeLong is the Philip J. Stomberg Professor of Management Practice in the Organizational Behavior area at the Harvard Business School. John J. Gabarro is Baker Foundation Professor at the Harvard Business School. Robert J. Lees is former director of professional development at Morgan Stanley and former director of human resources for Ernst & Young International.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1402 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1422117375
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (November 12, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005DI8XGC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #679,033 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dimensions of High-Impact Leadership January 25, 2008
In this volume, Thomas DeLong, John Gabarro, and Robert Lees present what they characterize as "an integrated leadership model" that is designed to "stimulate thinking and facilitate changes that high-performing firm leaders want to enact." Although their focus is on the professional service firm (PSF), all of the information and counsel in this book can also be of substantial value to other kinds of organizations. In fact, decision-makers in those (e.g. manufacturers) must also offer professional service of the highest quality, especially now when competing in what has become, as Thomas Friedman describes it, a "flat world."

First, DeLong, Gabarro, and Lees introduce their integrated leadership model and explain its background, "how it evolved out of the problems and opportunities that have bedeviled heads of firms in recent years." I agree with them that, for most PSFs, a fresh leadership approach is "mandatory." In fact, research and DeLong, Gabarro, and Lees in combination with their own experiences have revealed exemplary firms and what can be learned from them. That information helped to guide and inform the development of the integrated leadership model.

In the remaining eight chapters, DeLong, Gabarro, and Lees respond to questions such as these:

What are the dominant characteristics of the integrated leader?
To what extent are PSFs "a breed apart"?
What unique challenges and opportunities do they offer to their leaders?
What should a firm offer: products, services, or both?
How to define and then measure a PSF's market?
How to achieve and then sustain strategic differentiation?
How to attract, motivate, and then retain the talent needed?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Although the nature of professional services is changing, with firms experiencing greater internal demands from professionals and greater external demands from clients, the majority of leaders are using old frameworks and ways of thinking to fashion makeshift behaviours to meet the new challenges, according to Thomas DeLong, John Gabarro and Robert Lees in this book. The book provides a new framework for leading and managing professional services firms, called the integrated leadership model.
The new model proposed by the authors consists of four interrelated sets of leadership activities:

* Setting direction, which involves articulating the firm's objectives and how the work of professionals relates to those objectives
* Gaining commitment to the direction, which is necessary to make professionals feel involved and included
* Execution, which involves follow-through and accountability to ensure that financial goals are met and people do what they promise to do
* Setting a personal example, which requires the leader to embody the firm's stated values and goals

While I thoroughly agree with the importance of these four sets of activities, I am left wondering whether there is anything particularly new about them. I would have thought that these have always been important activities for successful leadership of a professional services firm.

The book contains chapters on why professional service firms require a different style of management from that required by product-producing businesses, using segmentation to respond to commoditisation pressures, the importance of strategic differentiation, how to motivate and develop high achievers, and the important role played by professionals who are "solid performers" rather than stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful road map to professional firm management. October 9, 2008
Pull up a chair for a straightforward exposition of the threats that face professional-service firms and the measures they need to take to meet today's marketplace demands. Thomas J. DeLong, John J. Gabarro and Robert J. Lees examine the challenges confronting the whole spectrum of professional-services firms. They identify "product intensity" and "practice segmentation" as two dimensions that weigh heavily in deciding how to lead these firms and set a long-term course. They offer a model to guide leaders, emphasizing planning, commitment, execution and setting an example. getAbstract finds that this book will interest any professional in the service business. Even those who may not be responsible for leading their firms can benefit from this analysis.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As a consultant to department Chairs in Medical Schools; CEOs of large medical group practices; and partner/leaders of a Big 4 consulting firm, my consistent experience has been that the barriers to aligning incentives to leverage the power of teams are almost insurmountable. Most of the leaders I have worked with have relied on a combination of relatively impotent fear tactics (i.e 'do this or else...) or cajolery (i.e. 'c'mon Jack, take one for the team...) that rarely drive persistent change or significant results.

When Professionals Have to Lead integrates credible research into the root causes of the obstacles to teamwork and presents clear, actionable strategies that enable leaders to make the business case for why enhanced team performance (and incentives) will benefit all of the reluctant players. As importantly, the authors provide solutions related to core competencies and creation of a common purpose for senior teams rare in the mush of writing on teamwork. Given the gnat like attention span of most of my clients, I rarely advise reading in excess of 3 pages. This book is the exception. I read it in a single sitting and wish I had written it.

Daniel J. Anderson
Hard Counsel
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