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True Professionalism

The Courage to Care About Your People, Your Clients, and Your Career

About The Book

David Maister, the world's premier consultant to professional service firms, vigorously challenges professionals to examine this essential, yet under-addressed question: What is true professionalism?

Professional firms are forever trying to get their people to act like professionals—to do the right things. Though their various incentives may create employee compliance, these don't often encourage excellence. His answer is clear: It is believing passionately in what you do, never compromising your standards and values, and caring about your clients, your people and your own career. In clear and compelling terms, Maister shows that this approach is not only ethical but also conducive to commercial success.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Group Questions
1. What percentage of our people are acting like DYNAMOS (i.e. acting as if they had a career, actively working to expand their skills and responsibilities)? What percentage are CRUISING (i.e. doing the job well, but not learning and growing)?
2. How can we manage differently in order to encourage more dynamism, and tolerate less cruising?
3. What are our enforced values (in the sense of the non-negotiable minimums that must be observed to belong to our organization)?
4. How well do we live up to the values we espouse? How well do our people think we live up to them? What must we do to better live up to our values?
5. Are we too tolerant of dysfunctional behaviors or "adequate" performance? What should we be less tolerant about?
6. How organized and disciplined are we in using our non-reimbursed time to invest in things that will make us more competitive?
7. How well are we performing on the following business processes?:
  • Creating innovative solutions to client/customer problems
  • Finding new, efficient ways to lower cost of performing our tasks
  • Earning unprompted referrals from client work
  • turning individual client assignments into long-term relationships
  • continuously gathering market intelligence and tracking emerging client needs
  • generating awareness of capabilities in important markets
  • turning inquiries into assignments ("Sales Process" Effectiveness)
  • Developing new services
  • attracting high-quality new recruits
  • Transferring skills to junior staff
  • Developing and growing New Senior people from junior ranks
  • Disseminating and sharing skills and knowledge
  • Helping people to continue to grow and develop their capabilities throughout their careers

8. How well do our managers perform in the eyes of their subordinates? Do they pass the tests of Motives, Values, Competence and Style?
9. Is your firm culture one where firm life is to be enjoyed and not endured? Are your people "having fun" at what they do? If not, why not? How can the level of fun and fulfillment be improved?
10. Are we a firm of "True Professionals" or one of "Good Technicians"? How do we describe our firm and why? How can we raise the degree of professionalism?

About The Author

David H. Maister, one of the world's leading authorities on the management of professional service firms, is the author of several successful books, including Managing the Professional Service Firm, True Professionalism, and Practice What You Preach, and coauthor of The Trusted Advisor.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Free Press (January 7, 1999)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780684865041

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Raves and Reviews

Thomas J. Tierney Worldwide Managing Director, Bain & Company Insightful, entertaining and useful! Maister's work bridges the gap between theory and practice; grounded in conceptual bedrock, it offers practical 'Monday morning' advice for anyone involved in managing a professional service firm.

John Harvey Chairman, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Australia David Maister is the guru of professional services. A routine reading of Maister?s lessons is good religion for all practice managers.

James M. Kouzes Coauthor of The Leadership Challenge and Credibility True Professionalism is pure gold. You?ll be able to mine this rich vein for your entire career and always discover another nugget.

Adrian Martin Managing Partner, BDO Stoy Hayward UK Maister is not for the fainthearted. If you are not prepared to ask the tough questions about your business, don?t open this book! ?

Tom Watson Vice Chairman, Omnicom Group, Inc. Maister?s ideas are applicable in a wide range of professional businesses and are equally valid for small firms or large. This book speaks to the professional in all of us.

Martin Sorrell Chairman, WPP Group plc Provocative, controversial and stimulating, Maister challenges traditional thinking and provides new insights on a wide range of important issues.

A. W. (Pete) Smith, Jr. President & CEO, Watson Wyatt Worldwide David Maister has a keen awareness of what creates success in professional service firms and a clear way of communicating ideas that truly make a difference.

John M. Westcott, Jr. Assistant Managing Partner, Hale & Dorr, Boston Maister in print, like Maister in person, is animated, entertaining and insightful. He always leaves the reader with food for further thought.

Robert M. Heller Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel David Maister is a walking oxymoron, a practical visionary whose thoughtful analysis of the professional service firm is must-reading for anyone trying to lead, manage or survive in one. If you need help getting your prima donnas to sing like a chorus, read this book -- better yet, ask them to.

Fergus Ryan Managing Partner, Arthur Andersen, Australia David Maister?s knowledge of professional services is second to none.

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