Four Leadership Strengths that Define Accountants

Hitendra Patil

How clients value the intangibles.

By Hitendra Patil
Pransform Inc.

"What leader has the most positive influence in your daily life?"

The answers to that Gallup Poll question may be astoundingly important for CPAs who strive to make a positive difference in the lives of their clients.

Here's why: CPAs already possess the authority and position to exercise the type of leadership with clients that can make a tangible and practical difference on a day-to-day basis.

In a second question, Gallup asked respondents to list the words that best describe what that leader contributed to their lives. Then Gallup boiled down the words into four categories, each clearly important to practicing accountants:

  1. Trust (i.e.: honesty, integrity and respect): Clients expect to see an accounting firm as an honest entity. They want to experience integrity in all their transactions with the firm. They respect accountants for their knowledge, wisdom and expertise. And they trust their accountant can guide them through business or financial challenges.
  2. Compassion (i.e.: caring, friendship, happiness and love): For many accountants I know, their greatest joys come from knowing they touched a client's life in some way. The challenge, of course, is creating the compassionate culture across the firm.
  3. Stability (i.e.: security, strength, support and peace): You thought IT security was a necessary evil? Just the knowledge that your systems and processes are secure and safe gives your clients a tremendous sense of stability. It takes away their worries. Note the word “peace.” Peace of mind is not something that emerges from just one act. It is a comprehensive thing.
  4. Hope (i.e.: direction, faith and guidance): This is the North Star phenomenon that many firms can simply miss in day-to-day drudgery. A leader is a dealer of hope. Accountants provide direction and guidance to keep alive clients' hopes of better financial lives.

Clients already expect their CPA to be a leader in their lives. CPAs merely need to fill the role.




One Response to “Four Leadership Strengths that Define Accountants”

  1. Katrina Geety

    Making a difference is so important, also referred to as providing value. As CPAs we are so consumed with compliance services, which are becoming increasingly more time consuming (e.g., bank demands, multistate nexus, insurance companies, foreign transactions, etc.), soon to be further increased with the Affordable Care Act compliance reporting. This doesn’t leave a lot of time in the accounting budget for value added services. This is why I chose to let go a large account for me. I didn’t have the bandwidth as a small firm to keep them compliant and have time to do the value added services such as tax planning.

    I now have more time to work with my smaller privately owned companies and am able to provide a great mix of compliance and value added services.

    In the last few months,I have met with many of my long term clients and have felt the feeling of satisfaction from knowing that they trust me, getting those big hugs and smiles after the meeting started out in tears, and them scheduling follow up work to resolve issues or capitalize on opportunities. What makes the accounting profession so great is the role we play in our clients lives. I met with a new business client that was referred by an existing client. The new client said to me “this is different, I have never seen someone hug their accountant!”

    I have been serving my clients since 1986 and have been with them through many seasons of their business and personal lives. They are family to me. As a small firm, I have the latitude to do pro bono work. They know that I will not judge them, but give them hope in whatever situation they are in. I will not be rich when I eventually retire, but will have achieved a blessed and gratifying career.

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