Inspiring the Next Generation of Leaders

July 28, 2017


"Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders."
Tom Peters
As baby boomers near retirement age, it’s no secret many of today’s leaders will be exiting their firms over the next five to ten years. Despite this reality, less than ten percent of sole proprietors have a continuation agreement in place and fewer than half of all multi-owner firms have succession plans in place according to the most recent PCPS CPA Firm Succession Survey.

In addition, many up and comers don’t want the responsibility accompanying leadership roles in the new workplace. Can you blame them? After all, some have witnessed their parents or those in leadership positions struggle to find balance in their lives, not to mention all the stress that comes with it.

Bottom line, it is more critical than ever for firm leaders to prepare the next generation for this important transition. Is your firm ready for a leadership handoff? Inside this Feature Focus you can learn more about preparing the next generation of leaders.

A Closer Look at the Numbers
Let’s take a closer look at some of the numbers from this recent PCPS Succession Survey. As you review the following data, consider how your firm stacks up in each area.

What are you doing right now to develop future leaders of your firm?

Tips to Get Started
Although it’s a no brainer a solution is needed, this is where good intention often gets side tracked. On a positive note, here are some best practices to help your firm get started.

1. Redefine the Role of Leadership 
Let’s face it, leadership roles are not important to many up and comers as they seek greater freedom and better work/life balance. Instead of simply accepting this new worldview, maybe it is time to rethink the role of leadership going forward. Gather your team for some open discussions. Gain a clearer picture of their perceptions. Involve them in developing the solution. Zero in on how to make leadership more appealing to those in your firm.

  • What does the leadership role currently look like in our firm?
  • How can we redefine leadership going forward?
  • How can we use this situation to reengage our workforce?
  • How can we use this challenge to rethink work/life balance?
  • How can we use this opportunity to build greater trust with our employees?

2. Work to Engage Everyone
With employee engagement at all-time lows, many who might be tapped as emerging leaders or rising stars could be hidden in the sea of disengagement. To maximize opportunities, work to engage everyone in the firm.

  • Help each individual understand they are important to the firm
  • Replace ‘one size fits all’ approaches with individualized plans for success
  • Help ensure everyone is clear on their responsibilities and how these align with firm goals
  • Check-in with them regularly
  • Provide assistance and trouble-shooting as needed
  • Recognize and reward success

3. Encourage the Next Generations of Leaders
As you work more closely with individuals, rising stars will become more apparent. Take note of their behavior.

  • What is our firm’s leadership team doing to encourage a new generation of leaders?
  • How does our firm identify its next generation of leaders?
  • How do we encourage them to consider the responsibility?
  • What are we doing to foster and recognize exemplary potential?
  • Do we offer greater freedom and encouragement to help develop strong decision making among emerging leaders and rising stars? 

4. Equip Leaders and Rising Stars with Training and Coaching
“I was recently promoted and now manage staff. I am technically strong but firm leaders expect me to successfully manage without having any leadership training. How can I become an effective leader?” Like it or not, many firm leaders graduated from the leadership school of hard knocks. In other words, they had to learn how to be a leader on their own. As a result, many expect the next generation to follow suit.

Achieving success going forward requires proactive involvement from firm leaders. Help emerging leaders and rising stars acquire the skills, practical knowledge and experience to help them and the firm succeed.

  • What is our firm doing to equip emerging leaders to assume the reins?
  • Do firm leaders provide mentoring and coaching to rising stars and emerging leaders?
  • Does our firm craft personal development plans focused on individual strengths and needs of emerging leaders (soft skills and technical skills)?

Proven + Practical Tools

As a busy practitioner, it’s difficult to find the tools needed to help develop emerging leaders and rising stars. That’s why PCPS has created special events and built proven practical resource centers filled with tools and tips to help your firm develop and execute its plans.

Here’s to inspiring the next generation of leaders. A little work now can help your firm make great strides in the future.