How to Assess Your Leadership

key leadership attributesDo they have these four attributes?

By Anthony Zecca

As the leader of the firm, as important as it is to complete a comprehensive assessment of your leadership team, it is equally if not more critical to assess your own leadership. What are the key leadership attributes that reflect great Edge leadership?

MORE: Why Leaders Must Ensure Clarity | Incremental Vs. Exceptional Success | Do You Lead or Just Manage? | Managing Vs. Leading | Is Your Leadership Team at the Edge? | 6 Leadership Challenges Through COVID and Beyond | Edge Leaders Share 7 Strengths | Leadership Must Drive Culture | Leading from the Edge
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How can you get a meaningful and comprehensive assessment of how well you are doing as the leader of the firm? The trap to avoid is to just listen to yourself and your own self-assessment. To really understand how well you are performing, you need multiple checkpoints.
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Why Leaders Must Ensure Clarity

Large group of people gathered into an upward arrow shapeYour team wants to know their purpose.

By Anthony Zecca

Many of you who are reading this might be too young to appreciate the story I share below about my childhood.

MORE: Incremental Vs. Exceptional Success | Do You Lead or Just Manage? | 6 Leadership Challenges Through COVID and Beyond | Leading from the Edge
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I have always been a huge football fan. I played football in high school until a knee injury cut short my road to the NFL (just kidding), but my love of the game continues to this day. When I was a kid, there was a football game that I received one Christmas that I spent countless hours playing. The game was powered by electricity. The game board was designed as a football field, and there were 22 little plastic players that would form two teams. The players were about 2 to 3 inches tall, with a rubber piece on the bottom that had two flanges that you could move directionally and in theory affect how the piece would move on the board once the power button was hit.
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The 17 Rules for Making Partner at a CPA Firm

Checklist: It’s a big job, after all.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

We’ve all heard the names given to various generations of people over the past century. The Lost Generation. The Greatest (WWII) Generation. The Silent Generation. Baby Boomers. Gen X. Millennials. Gen Z. Though I don’t know of any studies on this, I’m quite sure that every generation of CPA firm ownership has complained – bitterly – about the younger generation.

MORE: Who Shouldn’t Be a Partner? | Nine Reasons People Are Promoted to Partner | How to Make Partner?
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Baby Boomers and Gen Xers love to complain that today’s staff don’t want to be partners. They cite this as a major reason why it’s so difficult to bring in new partners.
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Incremental Vs. Exceptional Success

Stylized industrial 3D number 8Eight seismic changes that have altered the future for accounting firms.

By Anthony Zecca

“All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.” – Tom Northup, author of “Five Hidden Mistakes CEOs Make”

What a great statement not just about accounting firms, but all organizations – “perfectly designed to get the result they are now getting.” There is another old saying that goes something like this: “If you want different results you have to do things differently.” Center leaders hold onto the status quo whereas Edge leaders constantly push the envelope of what is possible – pushing to the future edge.

MORE: Do You Lead or Just Manage? | Managing Vs. Leading | Is Your Leadership Team at the Edge? | 6 Leadership Challenges Through COVID and Beyond | Edge Leaders Share 7 Strengths | Leadership Must Drive Culture | Leading from the Edge
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Leadership is a topic that has been researched, talked about, written about, training sessions built around, and endless models developed – yet it is also one of the most challenging issues in most firms today. Over my career, I have worked and consulted with leaders of all shapes and styles and firms that experienced varying degrees of success. Based on working with hundreds of companies, my conclusions – and two of the primary reasons that drove me to write my book – are that in many cases, firms are performing below their capabilities and every firm has the potential to reach higher levels of performance if and when leadership moves from the center to the EDGE. Edge leaders want to be at the top of the pack when it comes to all metrics that matter whereas center leaders are content to remain average.
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Do You Lead or Just Manage?

Group of businesspeople hiding their faces behind question mark signs at office5 questions to answer.

By Anthony Zecca

Let’s look at examples of managing versus leading from two actual clients.

Stuck in Managing – Center Leadership

I was retained by the owner/CEO of a $40 million manufacturer of a home products company. The current leader inherited the business from his dad, and over 20+ years grew the business on the top line, but always struggled with profitability. Over the last few years, however, there was no top-line growth and he was frustrated.

MORE: Managing Vs. Leading | Is Your Leadership Team at the Edge? | 6 Leadership Challenges Through COVID and Beyond | Edge Leaders Share 7 Strengths | Leadership Must Drive Culture | Leading from the Edge
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His leadership view of the future was the next quarter, and the company had no strategy or vision beyond the current year. The most he thought about the future was when they were preparing their annual budget. This was an incremental process versus a real bottom-up process coupled with a growth strategy so as a management tool, the budget was relatively useless.
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Managing Vs. Leading

Are you solving too many problems?

By Anthony Zecca

One of the biggest obstacles to a firm realizing its potential, its partners and staff realizing their potential, and a firm leader maximizing his impact on the trajectory of the firm is when the line between leading and managing gets blurred.

MORE: Is Your Leadership Team at the Edge? | 6 Leadership Challenges Through COVID and Beyond | Edge Leaders Share 7 Strengths | Leadership Must Drive Culture | Leading from the Edge
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Too often, center leaders believe their job is telling everyone what to do and how to do it (managing things) versus providing the tools, authority and clarity on the firm’s strategic objectives and then getting out of the way (Edge leadership). Leadership at its most basic level is about inspiring everyone toward a common shared vision and ensuring that the decision-making hierarchy is clear and consistent within the firm’s mission and core values. Edge leadership is not about tactics and how things are done, but about making sure everyone is doing the right things, with accountability for results.
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Is Your Leadership Team at the Edge?

5 ways to evaluate them.

By Anthony Zecca

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie, industrialist

MORE: 6 Leadership Challenges Through COVID and Beyond | Edge Leaders Share 7 Strengths | Leadership Must Drive Culture | Leading from the Edge
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The above quote by Andrew Carnegie really puts a fence around the key responsibilities of your leadership team:

  • Ability to lead their team to work together toward a common vision
  • Ability to direct (drive) their individual team members’ efforts and accomplishments toward maintaining alignment with the firm’s objectives and
  • Ability to inspire and motivate each team member to achieve more than they have and to reach top performance and top results as a team

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6 Leadership Challenges Through COVID and Beyond

illustrationHow do you handle them?

By Anthony Zecca

Within every firm, every leader (edge or center) faces challenges every day. Sitting here in 2020 as I write this book, the challenges presented by COVID-19 are seismic in terms of impact as well as being totally unanticipated. COVID-19 has forced firm leaders to examine their own firm down to its very core and to make decisions that challenged their leadership in ways never imagined.

MORE: Edge Leaders Share 7 Strengths | Leadership Must Drive Culture | Leading from the Edge
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COVID-19 has also resulted in new leaders emerging from the chaos of the pandemic to rise to a level of Edge leadership. Edge leaders will see the opportunities created by COVID-19 while center leaders will only see the challenges. Edge leaders will examine every challenge and find the opportunity making the firm stronger as a result.
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