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First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals

First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals

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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