Adamson Advisory

It’s Time to Update the Title of Managing Partner

Maybe in the profession of public accounting, we have outgrown the title of Managing Partner.

Most CPA firms use that title to distinguish the one equity partner in the firm charged with the leadership and welfare of the firm, its clients, its shareholders, and its employees. That is quite a responsibility.

Accounting firms and law firms are beginning to question the title. After all, the description of a manager is quite different than the description of a CEO.

Definition of Manager

An individual who is in charge of a certain group of tasks, or a certain subset of a company. A manager often has a staff of people who report to him or her. Certain departments within a company designate their managers to be line managers, while others are known as staff managers, depending upon the function of the department.

Definition of CEO

Top executive responsible for a firm’s overall operations and performance. He or she is the leader of the firm, serves as the main link between the board of directors and the firm’s various parts or levels, and is held solely responsible for the firm’s success or failure.

In accounting firms, we don’t often clearly define the role of the managing partner. Nor, do we define the role of a manager. As the old lament goes, “Partners are doing manager work, managers are doing staff work, and staff members are looking for work.”

Consider this excerpt from an article on the ABA website:

A survey respondent was more pointed: “Managers implement what leaders want them to do. Most law firm managers want to be loved and not to lead.” Saying that managers want most to be loved may overstate the case. But it does sum up the problem. If a law firm needs vision, inspiration, motivation, cohesion, consensus, direction-setting, and the establishing of firm-wide goals, it needs strong leadership committed to that work.

Maybe, if you change the title to CEO (and define the job description), your managing partner might be inspired to develop and implement enhanced leadership skills and assign the management duties to the firm administrator (COO) and management of the staff to staff managers. You need a Chief Executive to lead your firm into the future.

Read this excellent article by John Remsen Jr. – 7 Strategies to Succeed at Law Firm Leadership.



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