How leaders can sabotage their own firm

How leaders can sabotage their own firm
May 10, 2017 Scott Charlton

In working with hundreds of high performing accounting and financial planning firms, I’ve become convinced that the leadership practised by the Principals plays a critical role in their success. Please take a moment to read about four observations I’ve made regarding the leadership ppractisedin firms that haven’t fulfilled their potential. Happily, addressing these issues requires little by way of direct investment. Rather, it’s more a matter of having the courage to address them. Keep in mind that whether you do or you don’t take action, your team members will duly follow your lead.


The wrong plan.
If the plan doesn’t align with the Principal’s goals, if it’s silent on the “tough issues” such as retirement, succession or someone not pulling their weight then it won’t have everyone’s support and will quickly fade into secondary importance. It takes courage to tackle such uncomfortable issues but go there you must.


Thank goodness that’s over
Now back to business as usual.  It’s all very well to have an exciting business plan, but unless the Principals are prepared to commit resources and consistently set aside time to implement the plan, then the plan will go precisely nowhere.  In firms which are anchored to the status quo, not only do the partners fail to discuss the plan regularly, they often fail to meet much at all.


Not following the new systems
The team have put thought and effort into improving a service, only to find that one or more of the partners steadfastly won’t conform. In the short term, an exception is made for the recalcitrant few. In the long term, a powerful message is sent to team members that their input and new systems aren’t important.


Not being around often enough
Everyone understands that partners need to attend administrative matters, represent the firm at various events and attend conferences to accumulate sufficient PD hours. Team members are also glad to see that Principals take annual leave and have balance in their life.  However, if there is an over-abundance of external commitments, exercise sessions in work time or frequent unexplained absences from the office, then there’s a silent message being sent to the team that the leader’s attention is elsewhere.

It’s incredible to think, given its importance, that virtually no attention is paid to leadership in one’s primary qualifications and ongoing professional development. However ,practitioners can still be excellent leaders.  In a future article, I will outline four practices consistently demonstrated by the leaders of high performing firms.



In 2017 Scott Charlton has issued a challenge to accountants, asking them to step up “be the complete adviser your clients need you to be.”  In order to meet the challenge. Scott understands that Accountants need to be bold.  They need to have critical conversations with their clients; offer the sort of services clients may not yet know they need; and have the courage to accept that they may not yet have the skills or the knowledge they need to meet their clients’ requirement. The solution lies in a program aptly named, The Bold Accountant.  To find our more contact Slipstream Coaching.

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