First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals



Description Review

Competently 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

From Publishers Weekly

Organizations are more successful when they mold highly talented individuals into a cohesive group. But most talented people especially professionals hate to be managed. How to resolve this tension is the subject of this tightly focused, effective book by consultants McKenna (Herding Cats) and Maister (Practice What You Preach). Recognizing that all groups of professionals are different, the authors don’t set off to create sweeping rules. Rather, they divide the task of leading groups of professionals into three parts what one must accomplish as the leader; how one wants to interact with individual members of the group; and how one wants to deal with the group as a whole and then offer concrete suggestions. A big part of this book’s appeal is the authors’ inherent understanding of how professionals resist overtly and otherwise being managed. Not surprisingly, McKenna and Maister spend a great deal of time explaining strategies for getting colleagues to agree to being led. They are particularly effective in outlining approaches for dealing with talented prima donnas (e.g., ‘listen to the individual’s reasons for this behavior’ and ‘inform the individual how improved behavior will improve his or her career’). This is a valuable resource for anyone in the position of trying to manage someone who was and still is, to a large extent a peer.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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