An article in this month’s Accounting Today, The Keys to Transforming Your Firm, that talks about some of the steps a firm can take to ensure long-term success. Things like have an updated annual plan for success and creating and communicating the firm’s vision. While I agree with all the points, there is one that I see as a major hurdle for many firms: developing leaders and successors.
Ongoing leadership skills education encourages your staff to learn to communicate more effectively with clients and co-workers, to approach issues from many angles and to solve problems in new ways. As with technical skills, improving and honing professional skills takes education and experience. Critical thinking and working creatively to solve problems are not intuitive for many of us. But they can be taught.
While a great many firms want their staff to grow into leaders, they do not encourage thinking differently. I call this syndrome SALY – Same As Last Year. SALY impedes growth and creates barriers to critical thinking and creative problem solving. The antidote for SALY is to introduce new ideas and approaches, to empower you staff to make well-thought out decisions without hearing “we don’t do it that way here.” Ongoing professional training and exposure to new leadership concepts, like improvisation for business, will help your firm move forward.
The real risk you run if you choose not to change, adapt, reinvent and grow? The real risk is turnover of high potential staff who are not engaged in what worked last year, last decade and definitely not last century.