Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Howard's Inner Circle No. 7: A New Kind of Leadership

"A leader must be visionary and paint a compelling picture of the future. The leader has to articulate the vision and attract the kind of people needed to make it happen. To be effective, leaders must be respected and admired. Above all, they must be trusted. Your people must have confidence that, in difficult situations, you will do the right thing.” says Managing Partner Larry Unruh of Hein & Associates in Denver.

I used his quote in a recent presentation to the New York State Society of CPAs Large and Medium-Sized Firms Practice Management Committee on a new emrging style of leadership at a number of regional accounting firms. Although many of the leaders of these firms were rainmakers, they understand because of a constantly changing marketplace, increased competition, and expansion beyond compliance services, a firm had to stand out as providing value-added services and modify the rainmaker business model.

Referrals and personal relationships are still extremely important, but business development is now more of a firm-wide effort. These successful firm leaders also understand the importance in excelling at knowledge, change, risk, talent, and project management. They also recognize the increased need for strategic planning, transparency, application of best practices, a team mentality, the creation and maintenance of trust, consulting with futurists, ending of a book-of-business mentality, and greater non-CPA involvement.

A great firm begins and ends with the leadership. The other basic keys are a shared vision, an ability to promote and distinguish, and providing quality professional services. Too often I have seen firms in which a long-time managing partner molds the firm to reflect that individual’s style. That firm’s success is usually short-lived and ends soon after that managing partner retires. That is why this new style of leadership is so appealing. As these managing partners mold their style to the firm’s needs thus allowing for a smooth transition to the next managing partner and the firm’s continued flourishing.
© 2010
The above is from the seventh issue of the newsletter, Howard’s Inner Circle, which periodically appears on the blog, “Instigator” at http://howardwolosky.blogspot.com/. It may be reproduced in full if that fact is stated and Howard Wolosky is credited as the author.

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