This is a landmark study of the issues around leading professionals. The lessons are crucial to leaders of any organization that depends on highly talented, highly motivated, highly demanding individuals. They hold as true in the worlds of media and culture as they do in the traditional professions. (Lord Hall, Director General of the BBC)
Empson's eloquent and superbly researched book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the challenges of organizing knowledge work and of leading knowledge workers through influence and inspiration rather than authority. (Professor Paul Adler, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California)
The higher reaches of the knowledge industry are difficult places to work. And if working in these organizations is tough, leading them is even tougher. How do you lead, cajole, and win the respect of these highly motivated, skittish, and suspicious people? Laura Empson has spent years pondering these questions and Leading Professionals is the highly revealing and accomplished result. (Michael Skapinker, Contributing Editor and Columnist, Financial Times)
Laura Empson has written a deeply engaging and enlightening book about the critical leadership challenges facing professional service firms. Based on extensive research and experience, this book is required reading for anyone who aspires to lead these increasingly large and diverse organizationsand for everyone who understands the central role that professionals occupy in the global economy. (Professor David Wilkins, Harvard Law School)
Laura Empson tackles a hugely complex phenomenon: the nature of leadership in professional service firms, where no one wants to be a follower and leaders only survive through the consent of their colleagues. She has created a truly fascinating portrait of what it means to be a leader in such settings. The book is full of rich insights engagingly told, and often revealed in the words of the professional leaders themselves. This portrait will resonate strongly with practising and aspiring professional leaders who will find much to learn from the stories she tells and the insights she develops. Scholars of management will appreciate her work, not only for its significant contribution to academic knowledge, but also because it speaks to us directlywe are, after all, professionals and struggle with similar issues of leadership in our own working lives. (Professor Ann Langley, HEC Montréal)
A richly detailed analysis of the complexities of modern professional organizations. The observations, based on more than twenty years of research, show a deep understanding of the tensions inherent in all successful firms. For those of us who lead or aspire to lead such firms, the lessons and conclusions are telling and valuable. (Philip Davidson, Managing Partner, KPMG UK)
Professor Empson has made a major contribution to the literature on how professional services firms work and how they are best led. This is very well-researched and insightful analysis, based on a wealth of interviews, and written in a very readable style. All in all, a must on the reading list. (Edward Braham, Global Senior Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer)
This is an exciting and challenging book. It manoeuvres extremely well between what we know, academically, about professional leadership, and the concerns of thinking practitioners. The central ideas of plural leadership, leadership constellations, and ambiguity challenge all of us to re-evaluate our notions of leading professionals. Professor Empson has made an important contribution. (Professor C. R. (Bob) Hinings, University of Alberta)
Partnerships play a vital role in the modern economy. The spirit of partnership is a mystery to those who have not experienced it directly and also sometimes to partners themselves. This book is a highly readable explanation of what makes professional firms work and, importantly, how they are successfully led. (Sir Gerry Grimstone, Chairman of Standard Chartered, Deputy Chairman of Barclays)
Individual professionals - highly educated, highly intelligent, and highly opinionated - are generally reluctant to see themselves as followers and may be equally reluctant to put themselves forward as leaders. They value their autonomy and confer authority on their leaders on a highly contingent basis. How does a professional come to be seen as a leader within a professional organization? How do leaders maintain their position once they have reached the top of their organization? How do
they navigate the complex power relationships among their professional colleagues and actually get things done?
Leading Professionals: Power, Politics, and Prima Donnas analyses the complex power dynamics and interpersonal politics that lie at the heart of leadership in professional organizations. It is based on Laura Empson's scholarly research into the world's leading professional organizations across a range of sectors, including interviews with over 500 senior professionals in 16 countries. It draws on the latest organizational and leadership theory to analyse in detail exactly how
professionals come together to create 'leadership'. It identifies how change happens within professional organizations and explains why their leaders so often fail.