Training and leadership development are essential for all professional service firms, especially with the talent pool continuing to tighten. Not only will firms need to retain their best and brightest, they’ll also want to develop professionals who can enhance client relationships, attract new business, drive profitability and ultimately earn the role of “trusted advisor.”
While your firm can invest heavily in an internal professional and leadership development program, professional associations like the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJCPA) provide members with a unique opportunity to develop and hone leadership skills, while serving the profession, broadening perspectives and building strategic relationships for the firm. In short, professional associations are leadership incubators.
As the past national chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) — the world’s largest professional organization for public relations professionals — and a past two-time president of PRSA’s New Jersey chapter, serving as a volunteer leader in my association was like a master-class in leadership.
Leaders must model the way and create a shared vision. Simply put, leaders must convince or encourage others to act. While many of those on your teams may be technically skilled, how many are able to move a CEO or board chair to take action? Serving as a volunteer leader in a professional or trade association is the ideal proving ground for developing exactly such skills.
Consider the following benefits from serving in a volunteer leadership role:
- What better way for a mid-level accountant or public relations professional to learn how to counsel a CEO, president or board member than serving in those very same roles?
- How can one develop a familiarity with marketing, human resources, special events, training and much more?
- What’s the best way to convince or encourage others to act — all the while gaining and maintaining trust, credibility and even likeability?
For most individuals in the accounting field, the majority of professional time is spent focused on matters of finance. But clients pay not only for tactical know-how, but for battle-tested leadership.
Accountants, similar to PR professionals, help lead clients through a variety of processes, and sometimes even a crisis. While some may have natural leadership ability, certain skills can always be honed further.