A handbook for managing partners
and practice group leaders
Give a synonym test and the words most closely associated
with Managing Partner might very well be leader, charisma,
and visionary. Now ask a respected managing partner, with
a few years of experience, what words are most closely associated
and you are likely to hear terms like coach, servant, and
Whether in service to your firm as a managing partner or
even someone who has the responsibility for heading up a practice
group, by now you will have heard all of the common cliches
about how the job of working with and managing other professionals
is akin to being the only fire hydrant on a street of dogs,
like lighting your hair and then putting the fire out with
a hammer, like nailing jello to the wall, pushing string across
a table, or (the one we most commonly hear quoted) "like
This handbook is intended to be a catalyst to provoke
your thinking and provide you with a working reference of what the
job really entails. You will find no pompous concepts spelling out
the quick-fix leadership awakening diet. There are no arrogant value
judgments proposing one type of firm culture, compensation system,
or leadership personality as being more desirable, superior, or
effective than any other.
What we hope you will find is a rich menu of practical and inspiring
examples drawn from our focus group research with managing partners
throughout North America, our client assignments internationally,
and our practice group leadership workshops that demonstrate the
"best practices" focus of those who effectively get extraordinary
results within their firms.
This handbook offers a set of leadership practices that are based
on the real-world experiences of those actively responsible for
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Your Introduction To Cat Herding
- When Leaders Are At Their Best
- Get To Know Each Individual Cat
- Become An Enthusiastic Change Agent
- Provide A Living Example
- Support Practice Group Collaboration
- Avoid The Quick Fixes
- Achieve Hard Results In A Hurry
- Make Sure Everyone Knows The Business
- Crank Up The Communication Effort
- Sweat The Small Stuff
- Focus On Innovation, Not Fixing
- Build Your Skills Inventory
- Encourage Continuous Abandonment
- Avoid Tolerating Mediocrity
- Remove The Obstacles
- Be Generous With Providing Recognition
- Track and Celebrate Accomplishments
PROFESSIONAL LEADERS PRAISE FOR HERDING CATS
"This work is an arrow to the heart of the leadership matter.
In the competitive environment faced by professionals today, classic
management styles of the past simply don't work anymore. This incredibly
pragmatic work by McKenna and Riskin is not only valuable, but crucial.
If there's a more useful or practical view of the situation than
you or I might have thought of, you can bet that these two will
have found it - - and you'll find it in this comprehensive spectrum
of leadership guidelines for the professional practitioner. Any
firm leaders who do not learn what's in this handbook can expect
to be surpassed in the marketplace by those who do."
Bruce W. Marcus, author, Competing For Clients In The '90s.
"Herding Cats is both profound and practical. There exists
no better guide to influencing and leading professionals. This is
David H. Maister, author, Managing The Professional Service Firm
and True Professionalism
"When I first received Herding Cats, I put it aside for vacation
reading. When I picked it up again, I read it from cover to cover
and said 'WOW - - what great ideas and thoughts.' I immediately
ordered a copy for each of our department chairs and practice group
leaders. For me, the most powerful idea in the publication is 'Focusing
on innovating - - not fixing.' This single idea has changed the
way we manage our firm."
John S. Oyler, Managing Partner, McNees Wallace & Nurick
"This handbook is just the ticket for busy Management Committee
lawyers in the firm - a quick read but far from shallow. More like
a fast, cool dip in the deep end - and just as refreshing."
David Cruickshank, Director of Professional Development, Gowling
Strathy & Henderson
"After I finished reading Herding Cats, I did what any good
leader would do - - I ordered 30 more copies for our practice groups.
You will not find as much wisdom and experience about law firm management
in any other single place."
Joseph V. Walker, President & Chief Executive Officer, Plunkett
"You must have been spending considerable time in our office
to be aware of so many of the issues that affect us. I ordered multiple
copies of Herding Cats to circulate among my partners, which lent
the voice of authority to many of the decisions made. For a relatively
small volume, there is considerable content and substance."
Robert Cohen, Managing Partner, Blaney McMurtry Stapells Friedman
"Herding Cats succinctly presents basic management and leadership
principles that are all too often forgotten. It is an easy and quick
read and probably should be read a few times a year by anyone who
leads a law firm or a practice group within a law firm."
Lawrence Gerber, Managing Partner McDermott Will & Emery
"I certainly enjoyed reading your original publication Herding
Cats and I must confess I have heard it more accurately described
recently as 'more akin to herding Tigers'. I feel that your publication
brings together in a clear and concise manner some of the fundamental
issues that face those involved in managing professional service
John Churchill, Managing Partner Dunhill Madden Butler (Australia)
"Forget the latest business blockbuster and the management
theory-of-the-month club, Herding Cats has more practical, usable
information on leading a professional service firm than anything
I've come across in years. It's a half-hour reading investment that
pays off with a recommitment to innovation, communication, and true
William L. Matthews, Managing Partner Plante & Moran, LLP
"A number of our practice leaders have shared Herding Cats
with both their clients and the professional staff in their offices.
The book provides many helpful 'compass' guidelines that allow leaders
to 'set their courses' and navigate their ways through critical
practice leadership issues. The partners in our group find Herding
Cats to be uniquely on point in addressing their needs as leaders
in a highly-matrixed, consultative, professional services organization."
R. Todd Rossel, National Director of Human Resources
Management Solutions & Services, Deloitte & Touche LLP
"Herding Cats has been a real hit and an inspiration . . .
Your insights cut across the spectrum of human nature, giving something
of value to every reader."
Donald J. Figura, Managing Partner, Wolf & Company
"Leadership is a critical issue in today's professional services
company. As firms move to a more corporate environment, the advice
and commentary in Herding Cats is not only essential but helps the
firm leader maintain perspective. It's a must read for every practice
Jim Fitzpatrick, Partner, McGladrey & Pullen and Director
of the McGladrey Network