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The Next Generation: Empowering Future Firm Leaders

Leadership 2“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” –John F. Kennedy

Who represents your future? What’s your professional legacy? How do you know whom to trust with your business when you retire?

Most firm owners know the future of their business relies on the strength of their successors—the individuals most capable of growing and maintaining both client relationships and the service teams within the firm itself. What’s less understood is HOW to identify, nurture and promote the best and brightest candidates in practical terms. What can firm founders and owners do to ensure they’re selecting and preparing the right people to carry on their firms as eventual partners and even owners themselves?

The first task is to recognize the rising stars within your firm. These people are the strongest innovators, always looking for new opportunities to expand client services and grow the business. They’re the ones who naturally lead, and embrace opportunity to build strong teams within their professional circle. And they’re never afraid to assume more responsibility—for not only the daily workings of the firm, but also for the long-term prospects of the business—which includes being personally invested in both client relationships and the firm’s reputation. But once you’ve identified these potential stars, how do you invest in them?

This new generation of firm partners and leaders can only fully develop their potential if they’re first granted the opportunity to assume more responsibility within the business; they need the space to lead and build up their own confidence and sense of professional excellence. This project involves a lot of faith on the part of firm owners and a willingness to trust that well-chosen individuals may make mistakes, but if properly supported, will also find ways to learn from them and utilize the knowledge and experience gained to then improve their strategies moving forward. A strong sense that they’re on a career track is also key. They need to know they have a distinct trajectory within the firms they hope to eventually lead, so that they’re invested from the start in the success of the entire process.

Monitoring the progress of these up-and-coming leaders is also vital. Owners need to establish a framework to gauge the speed of a candidate’s progress—standards that determine whether they’re on track, and that ensure performance meets expectations. By allowing rising leaders to take on some of the most interesting and challenging projects within the firm, founders can help create plenty of opportunities for professional growth that are beneficial for everyone involved. By empowering the next generation of partners to actively take the lead, both in managing client service teams and dealing with important clients as the primary adviser, owners can be sure the candidates they’ve chosen are able to rise to the challenge of leading the firm into the future.

This process requires a mutual investment of time, planning and resources on the part of both founding and next-generation members. But the reward is the successful establishment of a genuinely symbiotic and productive team, helmed by the best and brightest professionals of your firm. Remember, in nurturing new leaders to think and act as business developers themselves, founders and owners are furthering the evolution of the profession’s next generation even as they secure the future success of their own practice. Dynamic and dedicated staff facilitate the growth of a firm, and they’re always your best investment.

Want to learn more about how to implement a strong model for identifying and developing the talents and ingenuity of those who represent the future of YOUR firm? Don’t miss the opportunity to hear what some of the most experienced minds in the profession have to say about the importance of the next generation of partners and leaders in building strong accounting and financial advisory firms. The AICPA Personal Financial Planning Summit, which takes place January 8-10, 2018, in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, is comprised of discussions, interactive panels and networking opportunities intended to bring together the “Leaders among Leaders” of the profession to compare notes, challenge conventional thinking and shape the future legacy of their firms. The summit offers continuing education credits. Click here for more information. 

Philip Palaveev, CEO of the Ensemble Practice LLC. Philip is an industry consultant, lead faculty member for The Ensemble Institute, and author of the books The Ensemble Practice and G2: Building the Next Generation.

Leadership courtesy of Shutterstock.

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