DiscoverEmpson & Morley - Leading Professional People
Empson & Morley - Leading Professional People

Empson & Morley - Leading Professional People

Author: Laura Empson & David Morley

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Professor Laura Empson and David Morley uncover the complicated, messy and surprisingly emotional challenges of leading professionals – people like top lawyers, consultants, accountants, doctors, architects, academics, bankers, investment managers, and many more.


The series draws on Empson’s decades of academic research into leading professionals and Morley’s many years of leading one of the world’s largest law firms, together with interviews with leaders of the most successful global professional organisations, such as McKinsey, KPMG, Allen & Overy, and London Business School. 


It reveals the realities that lie beneath the ‘professional’ veneer that these highly successful individuals and their organisations present to the outside world and brings together for the first-time cutting-edge theory and first-hand experience to explore crucial leadership questions. 


This podcast is for anyone who has – or aspires to have – a leadership role in a law firm, consultancy, partnership, hospital, university, investment bank, media company, investment management, or other professional organisation, who wants to challenge assumptions, develop explanations and explore new solutions.


Laura has been conducting academic research into professional organisations for over 25 years. She is the Professor in the Management of Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School, University of London; Senior Research Fellow at Harvard Law School; and acts as an advisor to many of the world’s leading professional organisations.


David led global law firm Allen & Overy 2003-2016. Under his leadership, the firm expanded internationally, and revenues doubled from £652 million in 2004 to £1.31 billion in 2016. Profits increased by 175% in the same period. David left Allen & Overy in 2016 after 36 years and now consults on strategy and leadership of professional service firms.

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13 Episodes
Empson & Morley speak to Tony Hall, Lord Hall, about his time as Director General of the BBC, and his many other high-profile roles. They examine what it is like to lead complex organizations with multiple groups of stakeholders under intense public scrutiny. See for privacy and opt-out information.
How do you build better leaders in a professional service firm? Empson & Morley speak to Russ Hagey, Worldwide Chief Talent Officer of Bain. They explore Bain’s self-reinforcing leadership development system, and the way “insurgency” is both encouraged and controlled to strengthen the system. See for privacy and opt-out information.
Why do professionals do bad things? Empson & Morley speak to Professor Brooke Harrington of Dartmouth College, in the USA. They explore the factors which drive some professionals to behave unethically, and the organizational and societal factors which encourage it. See for privacy and opt-out information.
What is collegiality and how does it work in practice? Empson & Morley speak to Jill Ader, Chair of executive search and leadership advisory firm Egon Zehnder. They examine how to create an environment of mutual support, cultural consistency, and equality among peers. See for privacy and opt-out information.
Ep 8: Leadership duets

Ep 8: Leadership duets


Can dual leadership be effective and how does it work in practice? Empson & Morley analyse these questions with the help of Barry Devereaux and Catherine Deane, Managing Partner and Chairof leading Irish law firm, McCann Fitzgerald, who have recently introduced a dual leadership structure.  See for privacy and opt-out information.
How can leaders help their professionals prepare for the challenges and opportunities of post-pandemic professional work? Empson & Morley explore this theme with Nick Owen, Chair of Deloitte UK. They consider how hybrid working is calling into question some well-established “truths” about the nature of professionalism. See for privacy and opt-out information.
How do you create and sustain collaboration when you no longer meet each other face to face? Empson & Morley discuss this with Kirsten Edwards-Warren, Executive Vice President EMEA for Compass Lexecon. They examine the distinctive culture, systems, and structures the firm has developed to encourage collaboration and how it continued to thrive during the pandemic. See for privacy and opt-out information.
In a global professional organisation, how do you achieve alignment across national offices? Empson outlines one powerful method – social control – and Morley explores his experience of leading partners through the process of global integration. They talk to Philip Davidson, currently Global COO of KPMG about exercising power while walking the global/local tightrope. See for privacy and opt-out information.
Empson explains how the culture of partnership is created and sustained while Morley highlights the challenges of growth and scale in this context. To examine the differences and similarities between leadership in partnerships and corporations, they talk to Sir Ian Davis, former Global Managing Partner of McKinsey and now Chairman of Rolls-Royce plc. See for privacy and opt-out information.
Professional people can be notoriously reluctant to see themselves as leaders. Empson & Morley explore what can be done to support professionals making the transition from full-time fee earner to leader. They examine the myth of “authenticity” with Professor Herminia Ibarra, of London Business School, globally renowned expert in leadership identity and career transitions. See for privacy and opt-out information.
Empson outlines how a crisis changes the balance of power in professional organisations, but only temporarily. Morley explains the importance of adapting your leadership style as a crisis ebbs and flows. They interview Wim Dejonghe, Global Senior Partner of global law firm Allen and Overy, to find out how he has dealt with the Covid crisis.  See for privacy and opt-out information.
Empson gets a call at midnight from a client asking for advice as a potential leadership coup gathers momentum. Morley & Empson discuss the paradoxes of leading professional people, including the paradox of autonomy and control. When your “followers” don’t like being told what to do, how do you get them to do anything? See for privacy and opt-out information.
Professor Laura Empson and David Morley introduce their new podcast series ‘Leading Professional People’. See for privacy and opt-out information.
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