First Among Equals | David H. Maister

Summary of: First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals
By: David H. Maister


Navigating the challenges of leading a group of professionals can be a daunting task, but ‘First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals’ by David H. Maister offers invaluable guidance. This book summary focuses on fostering trust, understanding, and commitment among team members. Maister explores the importance of clarifying the leader’s role and responsibilities, confirming the group’s mandate, and offering effective coaching techniques. Moreover, the book assists in dealing with different personality types, handling underperformers, and building a solid foundation based on group values and actionable plans. Ultimately, the goal is to create a productive and harmonious environment, ensuring the success of both individuals and the team as a whole.

Leading Professionals

The book emphasizes the challenges faced by managers in leading professional groups and provides practical solutions to enhance teamwork. The author highlights the importance of establishing clear goals, building trust, and coaching individuals. A leader’s success lies in clarifying their role, confirming their mandate, building trust, and developing coaching skills. Trustful relationships and effective communication are the keys to successful coaching.

Understanding and Coaching Different Behavioral Styles

The book presents a quadrant of four behavioral categories based on assertiveness and responsiveness, which can help predict how people will act. The four categories are Drivers, Analytics, Amiables, and Expressive. For each category, the book explains how to coach them effectively. Drivers want to be in control, so coaches should help them specify priorities and objectives. Analytics like data and detail, so coaches should be organized, provide pros and cons, and document commitments. Amiables want smooth interactions, so coaches should encourage voicing opinions and look for nonverbal cues. Expressive types are big-picture thinkers who need help setting priorities and implementing ideas. Coaches should listen to their views and help ground them in reality.

Navigating Difficult Group Members

Dealing with under-performers and prima donnas can be a challenging task for leaders. Under-performers may have personal or work-related issues affecting them, but having an open dialogue about the problem and its causes, agreeing on solutions, and setting follow-up dates can help. Prima donnas, on the other hand, may be high-performing individuals but can also be toxic to the group. Explicitly explaining what they did wrong, determining the reason for their behavior, encouraging change, and creating a detailed plan with follow-up dates can improve the situation. To get commitment to change, leaders should communicate the high-stakes consequences of not changing, outline options and benefits, ask for help if necessary, and express sincere gratitude for their efforts. With these strategies, leaders can help minimize disruptions and steer their groups towards success.

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