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When Professionals Have to Lead: A New Model for High Performance Hardcover – December 19, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Press; 1 edition (November 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422117375
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422117378
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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?
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic read on professional service firms (PSFs). I've read most of David Maister's content on the subject which is primarily from the 90s. This volume gives a much needed update to the management thinking behind PSFs. I am a practicing professional engineer in the consulting realm and I highly recommend this book. I'm not quite done reading it but here are a few of the highlights for me:

Most of the information here is qualitative in nature (few statistics and graphs) but it's obvious that the authors are speaking from experience in researching a numbers of PSFs. The authors have been very active in researching management science behind PSFs and training through the Harvard executive education series on PSFs and their experience shows through. One thing I like is that the book is concise yet packed full of good tidbits. I can't stand it when authors draw out the same point over hundreds of pages just to make a long book. This book it pithy and straight-forward. I like to read a chapter then put it down and reflect on the content.

The book makes some great points about managing a PSF in the 21st century. They speak about relentless competition and price transparency with clients as well as the trend toward commoditization of services. Just like other industries, it is very difficult to create and maintain competitive advantage in today's marketplace. The book gives plenty of tips on how to protect against this phenomenon.

The book takes a couple of chapters just to describe characteristics of PSF employees. Employee skills and professional development are important for all companies but they are especially important for PSFs because they are selling the expertise of their professionals. There are lots of implications in here about employee retention which are great. I've seen firms crumble from the inside out if they can't challenge and retain their professionals.

All in all, highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
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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