Collaboration and leadership. Could I combine two better management buzz
words to get you to click on this article?
I think not. Kidding aside, the
two concepts are critical to the success of your firm and when you have both
working in tandem you accelerate your firm’s results, profitability and
growth. Yes, we need strong leaders at
the top of the organization but strong leaders recognize they can’t drive
success on their own. They build a
strong leadership team around them and leverage members’ unique abilities by
collaborating with them every step of the way.
Theoretically, what I’m about to discuss
isn’t very complicated. However, when we
watch firms try to execute the below strategies, the day-to-day tasks and
longstanding misconceptions seem to always get in the way.
Build Your Synergistic Team
The greatest leaders
surround themselves with tremendous talent on their leadership team. They understand their own unique abilities
and the areas where they fall short.
They look for individuals who can complement their strengths and
minimize their shortcomings. This is
where tools like the Kolbe Index can be incredibly useful. The Kolbe Index identifies individuals’
instincts that drive natural behaviors.
Understanding this is critical to building a synergistic team.
that often limits CPA firms is that the leadership team must be comprised
solely of CPAs. This is simply not true
and is costing firms a lot of time and money while reducing their ability to
compete today and into the future.
Requiring a CPA certificate to have a seat at the management table is
holding back some of your best talent and limiting the firms potential for
successful firms include their functional department leads in their management
teams. IT, HR, and Training &
Learning all have a seat at the management table. This ensures that they know what is going on
but, more importantly, it taps into their diverse knowledge and perspectives
real-time during the decision-making process.
Cross-functional collaboration takes place during the decision-making
process rather than after the fact.
Align from the Start
The strategic planning process is
critical to setting a roadmap towards achieving your firm’s most vital growth
initiatives. A collaborative effort
between all functional areas of the firm to develop the plan seems like the
obvious process, right? Unfortunately,
too many firms don’t choose that path.
Instead, they work in siloes and fail to communicate the plan once it is
Similar to the
management meetings, the path to up-front alignment in regards to the strategic
plan lies in the involvement of the functional department leads in the process. They can’t be expected to develop a strategy
for their respective department that supports the overall firm plan if they
haven’t been involved in the process or even seen the firm strategic plan.
Look Outside Your Organization
The best firms in our profession
realize the wealth of information and experience that exists beyond the
barriers of their own organization. They
typically join one or more peer communities to gain outside ideas and fresh
perspectives. They also recognize the
importance of peer accountability in that it’s a lot easier to tell yourself
and your team you didn’t accomplish something than it is to tell your peer.
If you’re still trying to go at it
alone, I would encourage you to look into joining a peer community. We started The Boomer
Technology Circles over a decade ago and now have a
number of other specialized communities of leading firms pushing each other to
- The Boomer Technology Circles community will help your firm bridge the gap between technology and practice
management and accelerate your progress through thought leadership and peer
- The CIO Advantage community prepares technology professionals for a seat at the management table
by developing their business and IT acumen.
- The CEO Advantage is a community of Managing Partners who act as a collaborative think tank to
challenge, encourage and propel each other to a higher level of success.
- The Talent Development Advantage is a community of HR, Learning and Human Capital leaders focused on talent
development through shared intellectual capital, peer networking and
Producer Circle is a community of business and IT
savvy thought leaders focused on providing improved client accounting service
and achieving firm growth and profitability by leveraging technology and the
- The Specialty Tax Circle community will assist member firms improve growth and profitability by leveraging
services associated with specialty tax.
As your firm participates in peer
communities and attends training or conferences, it’s important to maintain a
collaborative mindset. You’ll often get
a bigger return on your investment by having cross-functional attendance at
these events. This allows for real-time
reconciliation of diverse perspectives based on the same information. You don’t get this when each party attends
their own event and then tries to resolve their differences back at the
office. What you usually end up with is
little to no buy-in and no execution.
involvement, leadership involvement is also critical. Bringing back a bunch of great ideas from
outside the organization is great but if leadership doesn’t buy-in, it doesn’t
go anywhere. Seeing is believing. When firm leaders attend alongside the
functional leaders, they will see, believe and make sure stuff happens.
The pace of change is increasing
in our profession, in our country and in our world. No one can be expected to keep up with the
changing environment of practice, technology, HR, tax, etc. issues. True leaders recognize this fact and recruit
a network of talented individuals both inside and outside their firm so they
have the best information possible to make the best business decisions to
improve their firm’s performance, profitability and growth. They are truly collaborative leaders.