Lead into the future: 8 firm leadership skills for 2023
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Lead into the future: 8 firm leadership skills for 2023

2 months ago · 3 min read · AICPA Insights Blog

Leaders are not built overnight. Personal experiences and professional development form strong leaders through quality learning and development. Effective leaders aren’t stagnant ― they’re agile and committed to their personal evolution.

With 2023 on the horizon, now is the time to recommit to your staff’s professional development. The business sector is continually evolving, and the demands from firm leadership, in terms of learning and development, are changing.

Successful leaders have a blend of skills that combine interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence and a tech-savvy mindset.

To grow your organization’s leadership and to professionally develop your teams, here are eight high-performance skills to keep on your mind as you plan ahead for the next year.

1. Effective leaders cultivate strong teams.

A strong team performs tasks efficiently and adapts to internal and external factors, as needed. Everyone is responsible for building a strong team, and while it begins with leadership, everyone on the team has a role. A cohesive and collaborative firm environment in which staff feel valued, heard and included boosts productivity and enhances workplace culture.

2. Effective leaders drive business performance.

A clear strategy drives overall business performance — and finance leadership is essential to driving business performance in two ways:

  • Accounting and finance professionals can develop a clear business strategy based on financial and nonfinancial data and metrics.

  • Once you set the business strategy, leaders direct their teams. To meet goals and to succeed in this role, leaders must be strong communicators and delegators, empathetic, motivating and trustworthy.

3. Effective leaders nurture emotional intelligence.

Strong leaders recognize, reflect and regulate their emotions in healthy ways that power their interactions.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, deepens empathy toward others, strengthens stress management and allows employees to overcome challenges constructively.

EQ is a must-have leadership skill. With strong emotional intelligence, leaders can foster communication and build stronger relationships with their colleagues.

4. Effective leaders think critically and adapt.

Change is inevitable, and obstacles vary in size and complexity. Attuned critical thinking skills enable leaders to identify, analyze, solve and execute strategies for varying challenges.

Curiosity, planning and flexibility ensure that leaders can adapt. They can not only accept reality and adjust but also shift their perspective and view challenges as opportunities.

5. Effective leaders lead through change.

For some staff in public accounting (PA) firms, accepting change is hard, and good leaders can guide them through unstable times. Change management is the process of helping colleagues accept, engage and positively harness change in their daily work routines.

During a big merger, for example, executive leadership needs to keep a business-as-usual mindset — to not disrupt productivity — and continually talk and work with their staff.

6. Effective leaders mentor others.

Staff at any level within a PA firm benefit from a mentoring partnership. Mentors can encourage mentees throughout their career, and it’s also an investment strategy to develop great future leaders.

Mentoring is more nuanced than pairing a senior-level and a junior-level employee. Before you can create strong leaders, you must develop strong mentors. Mentorship skills build EQ — from conflict resolution to creative problem-solving. Developing strong mentorship skills leads to mentorships that are balanced and objective-driven.

7. Effective leaders adopt a digital mindset.

Automation, artificial intelligence, digital assets, data mining, cloud computing and data analytics are emerging digital competencies for the CPA profession. Digital literacy gives a firm a competitive edge, boosts innovation and ensures that CPAs remain relevant in this evolving digital landscape.

Well-rounded training from trusted sources is vital in developing the next generation of leaders.

8. Effective leaders negotiate. Negotiation skills are broad and situation-dependent. Not everyone is comfortable in these communication settings — especially if they’re confrontational.

Negotiation training teaches a leader types of negotiation, the rules to engage and the processes to strengthen these skills. Similar to EQ, you can practice and develop negotiation skills. Investing in the learning and development of your staff and strengthening your firm leadership team is a chance to drive operations and performance, encourage employee retention and boost overall business strategy. With AICPA® & CIMA® Learning & Development subscription plans, leadership development training is designed for staff at all levels. Created specifically for the demands of the accounting and finance professional, your team will benefit from on-demand learning that covers a wide range of competencies — digital, people, technical, business and leadership skills. You know what makes a good leader; now is the time to invest in learning and development. Access our L&D subscription plans as you prepare to guide new leaders and usher in finance transformation at your firm.

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