Managing Partner of Professionals: Unlike Any Other Business Community


Henry is the newly elected managing partner of a large professional service firm. Think consulting or law or engineering. As with other such firms, there are challenges in stimulating demand for their firm’s services in an increasingly competitive and price-sensitive marketplace, in attracting “laterals” from other firms and the best new graduates in the field.

Henry campaigned for election on a platform of ideas for meeting the above challenges and of bringing people together across the firm to succeed together. And on a new focus on productivity – such firms have far too many underperformers who drag down the top half in success, compensation and sense of being on a winning team.


But Henry has found other factors that may be barriers to his successful leadership: he says there is no firm-wide pattern of collaboration between geographic office chiefs and “practice leaders” who are the subject matter experts and leaders of practitioners across the firm’s offices. He further cites a negative culture in one of the biggest geographic offices: back-biting, behind-the-back criticism of one partner by another, fiefdoms within the office of each practice area. A wide disparity in productivity between top performers and the bottom half. And no serious effort to resolve the disparity. While the office is still quite profitable, it has shrunk to half its size as some of the best people have left.

Henry does not have a plan for these newly confirmed challenges. Only an intent to resolve them.


Some key questions for Henry:

  • What is the plan and process for his ideas and intent to become action?
  • Are there “influentials” engaged in the effort?
  • Are a few foils (those opposed to the change) participants whose conversion would be a signal to others?
  • Has he brought together partners with different power bases to discuss the “third entity” (what collaboration might look like ad what would be its benefits to the participants if constraints could be overcome?)
  • Are fledgling instances of successful collaboration being celebrated and rewarded?
  • Are there new consequences for instances of undesirable behavior?
  • Will new hires populate some of the positions?
  • Will there be changes in who occupies the leadership positions?

For more on “third entity,” among the many who claim to have spawned this idea, get to know the very able Abe Wagner, Vistage speaker who led a workshop with my CEO peer advisory board in new York City (not an easy audience):

Abe Wagner Effective Organizations

And visit the mother ship for 21,000 owner/CEO members and Chairs (coaches who lead peer advisory boards in 20 countries around the globe:

Stay tuned. Henry is till developing his answers and experimenting with different types of engagement and policy changes.

That’s just my view. What’s yours?




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What Made jack welch JACK WELCH

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