Financial Planning | Leadership / Management | Training & CPE

Top 5 skills of the post-recession leader

Learn & lead Could this be the decade of the CPA?

Last year, the The Economist magazine proclaimed 2010 as the Year of the CFO. Now, Chief Learning Officer says the best CEO will be part CFO and part COO, which means the core financial and analytical skills of the CPA are more important than ever!

A recent article in Chief Learning Officer titled, "The Post-Recession Leader: Part CEO, COO and CFO," examines the most valuable leadership skills in this post-recession world. Here's my take on five of the most important skills today's leaders must have:

  1. Broader and longer line of sight -- the ability to see emerging patterns and shift perspective when necessary.
  2. Network leadership -- the ability to connect various stakeholders, including customers, regulators, team members, investors and supply chain partners.
  3. Strong analysis skills (financial and operational) -- a strong and working understanding of the business and operations at an economic and financial level. (CPAs, you already have this!)
  4. Communication skills -- the ability to communicate effectively and simplify very complex issues in a way that people will easily "get."
  5. Global perspective -- the world is flat and global, and all leaders today have to truly develop a global perspective and some international skills.

Stephen Miles, vice chairman of Heidrick & Struggles, an executive recruitment firm, said this: "The best CEOs in the world are a combination of CEO, COO and CFO. They are inspirational, financially literate and know the ins and outs of their business at a sophisticated level."

Now we are talking. The skill sets of the CPA are back in vogue as companies need smart spending and carefully evaluate their investments using "real numbers."The CPA brings disciplined thinking, financial literacy, and an understanding of the business that few can match.

Even if you don't aspire to the corner office, this is an opportunity to make a difference for your organizations and clients. They need us more than ever.

If you do aspire to moving up that career ladder, my advice to CPAs is to begin to acquire more of those right-brain skills and become an "ambidextrous" thinker. The leader of the future must be able to think both critically and creatively.

Turns out this lines up with our own research from the Business Learning Institute on the top five qualities of extraordinary leaders.

See our presentation from the AICPA Leadership Academy on Leadership -- I2A -- Insights to Action: A strategic thinking system.