creating the effective partnership 

leadership at its strongest


what successful managing partners do.

by robert j. lees, august j. aquila, derek klyhn

revealing the four pillars of success for high-achieving leaders of multi-partner, multi-office firms.

drawn from in-depth interviews with 150 professional services firm chief executives and their partners.

refined by the 50 years of combined experience of the authors – leading advisers to top firms in the us, uk and across the globe.

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buy this book with the companion volume, how to engage partners in the firm’s future

praise for leadership at its strongest

leadership at its strongest is a powerful book. rob lees, august aquila and derek klyhn have captured the essence of leadership. you won’t be disappointed! a must-read for anyone who leads a firm or team.”

richard caturano
chairman, american institute of certified public accountants;
executive managing partner-boston, mcgladrey llp

“you can read a 600-page tome from one of our profession’s management gurus or you can read this slim volume of insight and wisdom. i recommend the second choice. use the time savings to put this good advice to work in leading your firm.”

bob bunting
past ceo, moss adams,
chair international services group

“this is an excellent road map for being a successful managing partner. it touches on both the strategic as well as the soft-skill people issues, both of which are necessary to lead a professional services firm in this day and age. many years of collective wisdom are captured in this short piece – a very worthwhile read!”

gordon krater
firm managing partner
plante & moran, pllc

making a successful leader

the selection of a managing partner in a professional services firm — especially in accounting and law — is just too important and too complex to leave to chance. with the scale of the challenges firms are facing, no firm can afford not to identify and develop a group of partners with the ability to successfully take on the role of managing partner in the future. this monograph lays the groundwork to show firms how to do it — based on hundreds of interviews with already highly successful managing partners.

the right person to lead a major geographic, cross-cultural expansion isn’t necessarily the right person to take tough decisions to correct reducing financial performance or to deal with significant changes in the firm’s business model in response to changes in technology and low cost competition.

for firms, the key is to identify a number of potential managing partners and give them experience of operating in different contexts, which can then be used to determine who is most suited to the challenges the firm faces at the time of the managing partner’s appointment and during their likely tenure.

making the right call, choosing the right managing partner, is critical to every firm’s future success.

successful managing partners are strong and effective leaders. leaders whose picture of the future excites and energizes the firm’s partners and people, who help everyone, clients and people, to exceed their expectations and whose personal performance personifies everything the firm stands for.

there’s no getting away from the fact that being a managing partner is a tough job. but with clarity around the behaviors that deliver success, every managing partner now has a chance to truly make a difference.

table of contents

1. the model

2. setting direction

3. gaining commitment

4. execution

5. personal example

6. a few final thoughts


managing partner 360 feedback survey

about the authors

rob lees is a founding partner of møller psfgroup and consultant to professional services firm leaders worldwide. he is also co-author of the best-selling when professionals have to lead. for more information, see

august aquila is an internationally known speaker, writer, and consultant to professional services firms. he is ceo of aquila global advisors. he is also the co-author of performance is everything; compensation as a strategic asset; and client at the core. he can be reached at or 1-952-930-1295. for information see,

derek klyhn is a founding partner of møller psfgroup and consultant to professional services firm leaders and their teams. he can be reached at or 07901 515188. for more information, see

leadership at its strongest


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