Leadership / Management | Training & CPE

Your problems are nothing but opportunities


We're back in Timonium, Md., with members of the MACPA Leadership Academy's Class of 2012.

They've got some mighty big shoes to fill.

Remember the Class of 2011? All they did was write a white paper that outlines their vision for the future of the CPA profession. That's what the new class has to live up to.

So far, it looks like they're up to the challenge.

The new group of future leaders says leadership is being changed drastically by things like technology, globalization, the generation gap, the Information Age, the rate of change, the "power of we," the idea of "work" as a verb (as opposed to a noun), and the fact that titles don't equal respect. Respect these days must be earned.


But wait ... there's more. They also say today's great leaders are proactive, inspiring, collaborative, flexible, open-minded, ethical, adaptable, forward-thinking, and create teams that complement each others' strengths.

And that was just Day 1. There's another day and a half to go. I'll let them finish their work before I dish out any more accolades. Watch for a wrap-up post in the days to come.

In the meantime, I want to talk about the process.

Leadership Academy facilitators Gretchen Pisano and Tom Hood use a system called Insights to Action that points to "Strengths-Based Leadership" and the emerging field of positive psychology for many of their remarkable insights. Among them:

  • Most weaknesses are merely strengths in overdrive.
  • Negativity bias -- our tendency to give more weight to negative experiences -- holds us back. When we focus on a problem, we ensure its continued survival. We can overcome negativity bias by noticing the good things around us, holding them in, and letting them become positive emotions.
  • Without an awareness of their own strengths, it's virtually impossible for leaders to lead a team well.
  • When leaders focus on their employees' strengths, the odds of each person being engaged goes up eightfold.

Here's the shorthand: Focus on the positive. Reframe your challenges as opportunities. Then teach your team to do the same.

The result is pure gold.

In a world where it's all too easy to focus on problems, how are you helping your team see opportunities?

The answer is your key to success.


Bill Sheridan