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Leading Professional People: Series 1 and 2

This podcast brings together cutting edge theory and first hand experience to explore some of the most crucial leadership questions for professional people.

In Series 1 and 2, Laura and David uncover the complicated, messy and surprisingly emotional challenges of leading professionals. They interview senior leaders from some of the most successful global organizations of professionals, such as Deloitte, Bain & Co, the BBC, KPMG, McKinsey, and Allen & Overy.

Each episode reveals the complex realities that lie beneath the ‘professional’ veneer that these highly successful organizations, and their leaders, present to the outside world. This podcast is for any professional who has – or aspires to have – a leadership role and who wants to challenge assumptions, develop explanations and explore new solutions.

S2 E6: Leadership in the spotlight

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.

S2 E5: Leadership value chain

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.

S2 E4: Ethics and leadership

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.


S2 E3: Extreme collegiality

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 cohension, and equality among peers.


S2 E2: 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 Chair of leading Irish law firm, McCann Fitzgerald, who have recently introduced a dual leadership structure.

S2 E1: Post-pandemic professionalism

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.

S1 E6: Collaboration in isolation

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.

S1 E5: Global versus local

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, Global COO of KPMG about exercising power while walking the global/local tightrope.

S1 E4: Partnership versus corporate

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.

S1 E3: Ambition versus reluctance

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.

S1 E2: Leadership in crisis

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. 


S1 E1: Paradoxes of leadership

Empson gets a call at midnight from a client wanting her 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? 

Welcome to Leading Professional People

Empson & Morley introduce their new podcast series ‘Leading Professional People’

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