I view the role of the managing partner in a CPA firm as a mentoring role. Managing partners are certainly a role model for the younger staff but they must also be a mentor and coach to the other partners. Holding them accountable to their goals, assisting them with bringing in new business and asking them to continually improve their skills is a major part of the everyday activities of a managing partner.
By the time a CPA reaches the level of managing partner, they have no doubt developed the skills and talents that enable them to be an effective leader.
In their early years as a staff person, they most likely had role models, mentors, coaches, managers and firm partners to help them grow in their expertise and technical skills.
Now, they are the boss and probably do not seek out as much coaching and skill development activities that happened as they climbed the career ladder. They may even have an outside paid mentor to confide in and ask for assistance and guidance. However, that person does not truly know what goes on when the managing partner is at work every day.
Managing partners, why not seek out a junior coach inside your own firm? Who actually observes your behavior on a regular basis and will tell you things you don’t want to hear?
Upward feedback surveys for the entire partner group is a healthy exercise. If you haven’t done one in a few years, you should. But, for the managing partner, here is a simple exercise.
Pick 5 or 6 people at your firm, not partners, subordinates. Interview them and ask: What advice would you offer to help me improve my effectiveness? Please give me one or two specific and actionable suggestions. I would appreciate your advice. Then listen.
This exercise might seem awkward at first but keep it up. Pick 5 or 6 different people later in the year and do the same personal interviews. Then next year do it again, once or twice. As Ken Blanchard says, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”.
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