Professional organizations - such as accounting and consulting firms, law firms, and investment banks - are fundamental to the functioning of the global economy. Yet many of the most powerful are notoriously private. This book uncovers the complex, messy, and surprisingly emotional challenges of leading professional organizations - revealing the realities that lies beneath the 'professional' surface which these organizations present to the outside world.
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.
Professor Laura Empson is Director of the Centre for Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School, London, and a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard Law School's Center on the Legal Profession. She has dedicated the past 25 years to conducting academic research into professional organizations, publishing numerous scholarly articles in leading academic journals and editing the Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms. She was previously an Associate Professor at the University of Oxford. Laura acts as an adviser to the leaders of many of the world's most successful professional service firms. Before becoming an academic, Laura worked as an investment banker and strategy consultant. She has a PhD and MBA from London Business School.
PART 1: FOUNDATIONS OF LEADERSHIP; PART 2: LEADERSHIP AND INDIVIDUALS; PART 3: LEADERSHIP AND ORGANIZATIONS; PART 4: CONCLUSIONS