top of page

Identifying and Nurturing Future IT Leaders Within Your Firm

Leadership development is a critical aspect of any successful CPA firm. And while many firms work to identify and nurture leaders from their service lines, it’s not uncommon to see them overlook this process for their IT teams.  

As firms navigate digital transformation, the need for visionary IT leaders who can steer these advancements is essential. So, let’s consider how firm leaders can cultivate a diverse and innovative leadership team equipped to face future challenges. 

Embrace diversity and avoid confirmation bias 

The first step in identifying future IT leaders is to be mindful of confirmation bias when building your IT team and identifying those with leadership potential. 

Confirmation bias happens when we favor individuals who mirror our own behaviors and attitudes. This approach can stifle innovation and diversity within your team. To build a balanced team, valuing different perspectives and backgrounds is essential. Diversity in thought and experience fosters creativity and drives innovation, enabling your firm to adapt and thrive in a changing environment. 

Geoff Smart and Randy Street's book, Who: The A Method for Hiring, can be helpful in this context. It emphasizes the importance of finding the "rare find," individuals who may not have been in the ideal situation previously but possess the potential to excel in the right role. It also provides guidance for identifying and placing the right people in the right seats—a crucial step in building a robust IT leadership team. 


Define roles—not just job descriptions 

Clarity in roles and responsibilities is crucial for the success of any team. Move beyond job descriptions to define the specific roles within your team to provide clear direction and foster accountability. Each member should understand their unique contribution to the firm's goals. 


Keith Ferrazzi's book, Leading without Authority, offers insights into building teams that transcend traditional organizational structures. It highlights the importance of collaboration across different departments, such as HR, project management, and marketing, to achieve common objectives. This approach encourages thinking outside the box and leveraging diverse skill sets within your firm. 


Delegate authority appropriately 

Delegating the right amount of authority is crucial for empowering potential leaders. Holding individuals accountable for outcomes without giving them the necessary authority can lead to frustration and hinder progress.  

Ensure your future IT leaders have the autonomy to make decisions and take actions that align with their roles and responsibilities. 


Invest in training and professional development 

The IT landscape is constantly changing, with new technologies, processes and best practices emerging rapidly. Providing your team with the necessary training and tools is essential for their growth and the firm's advancement.  

However, training IT professionals can be challenging. Many IT professionals are already experienced and well-trained, so it can be tricky (and expensive) to find specialized learning and development opportunities to help them grow in their field. 


Peer communities can be a valuable resource for learning and development for IT professionals to share knowledge, develop soft skills and tackle complex challenges. These communities provide a supportive environment for growth, complementing traditional training methods. 


Making time for learning 

It's essential to recognize that professional development cannot be relegated to "spare time," a resource few IT professionals have. If you invest in self-directed training resources without allocating time for your IT team to focus on them, it’s often wasted money. 

Instead, allocate dedicated time for learning and development. This can be designating an hour a week or holding “Innovation Fridays” for your IT team to focus on education and development. Whatever form it takes, setting time aside ensures that your team members can enhance their skills without worrying that they’re neglecting their workload. 


Identifying and cultivating future IT leaders is a process that requires intention and investment. As a result, some firm leaders hesitate to invest, concerned they will invest in people only to have them leave for another opportunity. But perhaps the better question is, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?” 

Only by investing in your team can you foster a generation of leaders equipped to drive your firm forward. 


Could your firm benefit from getting firm management and IT leaders in alignment? 

The Boomer Technology Circles are a peer group of firm and technology leaders in the accounting profession who benefit from aligning IT and firm strategy and building valuable long-term relationships with solution providers and peers. Apply now to start building confidence in your firm’s technology decisions.  


Marc Staut, Shareholder and Chief Innovation & Information Officer at Boomer Consulting, Inc., helps meet the growing needs of CPA firms by leveraging his experience to provide strategic technology assessments, planning, visioning and coaching. He feels that “technology should be an enabler – something that’s approachable, aligned with and integral to the success of each firm.” Marc is a regular speaker, author and panelist on technology in the accounting profession, cloud computing, mobile technology, leadership and vision. 


bottom of page