BLI Leadership | Business Strategy | Leadership / Management | Organizational Development

Eleven things emerging leaders want you to know

As we near the end of summer, it is time to plan for the fall and winter busy seasons for CPA firms and companies.   With this in mind, we had several opportunities to engage our young professionals at both the Maryland and national levels via our Leadership Academy and the AICPA E.D.G.E. Conference for young professionals. They identified the top seven issues or challenges they are facing and offered their thoughts to the leaders of their organizations (managing partners and CEOs).   Here are the top 11 things they want you to know:

  1. More collaborative meetings. Fewer closed door "management" meetings.
  2. Be more transparent about the decisions that affect the members of the firm. People want to feel valued, and when you don't either include them in a decision or at least tell them what is going on, it is hard for them to buy in.
  3. Stop squelching initiative of those below partner level. If people are willing to take on stretch assignments, encourage that.
  4. Have more people take the strengths-finder test to make sure people are on effective teams. Reallocate people based on strengths as needed.
  5. I would require everyone to have a piece of their schedule to be allocated to the unknown, so that although you're being reactionary, you're expecting that there are items you can't control or anticipate.
  6. More acceptance that even though it takes time, ultimately it will save time (team work and brainstorming).
  7. Realize that billable hour is NOT the be-all, end-all metric of actual health of organization. What are other metrics of a healthy organization?
  8. Instead of your staff lining up at our door to solve their problems, imagine if we create a sustainable leadership culture in which everyone is engaged to accelerate the great vision and mission we have. Imagine a room in which introverts and extroverts create an innovated, multicultural plan to help us reach our goals. We can build on the multicultural process and gain alignment cross departments while building leaders.
  9. We need to be realistic in new work that's brought on, from both realistic budget hours with expectations of first-year growing pains as well as resources available to service work. The attitude should not be to bring on all clients without regard for resources. Does that mean a client or potential client rating scale? Yes, both of the client and our own internal resources.
  10. After spending money and time sending people to training, encourage feedback and expect changes as a result of the investment. Embrace that.
  11. Take a financial risk on leadership. Watch it pay dividends in the future.

With seven out of 10 U.S. workers disengaged at work (according to Gallup's State of the American Workplace 2013 report), can you afford not to listen to this feedback?

What do they see about the future of leadership in the CPA profession?

Here is a whitepaper created by our Leadership Academy (Class of 2011), appropriately titled, "What got you here, won't get you there."

CPA Leadership in the Future - What Got You Here Won;t get You There from Tom Hood
What can you do about this? Create inspiring and engaging workplaces and they have some great starting points. Four major themes came out of our "future  of leadership" session that you should consider:

  1. Communication: They want to be informed and involved and are asking for more transparency.
  2. Collaboration: They want to be engaged in thinking about how to move the organization forward, not just talked at. It is the No. 1 skill identified by the 2012 IBM Global CEO Study.
  3. Anticipation: They want to get out of the heads-down reactionary mode and begin to anticipate better ways of adding value to your organization and clients.
  4. Training and development: They need new "success" skills for this new world. (See the Shift Change in Accounting.)

At the MACPA, we are working on all of these areas and have resources to help you. Our Business Learning Institute is our learning and innovation center serving the CPA profession nationally and in Maryland. From collaborative strategic planning (yes, for the whole firm or organization) to competency-based curriculum design, to a catalog of "success skills" in multiple learning formats and our soon-to-be-famous Bounce. Contact us for help in any of these areas.