Coaching continues to gain traction as a tool for personal and professional development. In a recent survey, 87% of leaders rated their work with a coach as mostly or very effective. Ninety-five percent of them said they would hire a coach again.
Coaching is a great resource to launch and/or grow a CPA practice. Many practitioners use coaching to develop vital business-building competencies like marketing, communication skills, staff development, and process improvement. But the more profound value of coaching comes from the lasting change it helps create.
So, how do you change through coaching?
You are more productive.
Real estate experts employ the concept of “highest and best use” when valuing property. The same principle applies to CPAs when it comes to your time. Coaching offers a framework to determine the highest and best use of your time, along with a structure to manage it.
Achieving highest value starts with getting clear on your top goals and the action steps to reach them. Once that’s in place, best use comes from leveraging your calendar to focus on critical priorities. Coaching also helps deal with distractions and interruptions that conspire to throw you off course.
I often coach clients to distinguish between what’s truly important, versus urgent matters of the daily grind. We work together to schedule time blocks that focus exclusively on high value, best use activities. We optimize those time blocks by taking them offsite to what I affectionately call “the branch office.” That might be a coffee shop, library, park bench, etc.—a place that gets you away from the operational noise and clutter of your regular office.
Ultimately, you not only get more done in less time; you get the right things done. In a service business, time is money, so when you’re more productive…you’re more profitable!
You are more confident.
Coaching helps you establish a strong personal foundation. Together, your purpose, calling, vision, and values form a compass that points to your North Star. Clarity on these elements provides confidence to make the right decisions from day to day, preserving your hope of achieving significant life and professional goals.
Working with a coach provides greater awareness of your hard-wired strengths, weaknesses, personality, and behavioral tendencies. It helps you understand what it takes to show up as your best self and deliver your best value in every situation. You’re better prepared, which leads to better results. That breeds confidence, which makes you stand out.
People smell confidence from a mile away. It shows up in the way you walk, talk, and carry yourself. It’s a critical piece of “executive presence,” a blend of attributes and behaviors that lead to greater influence and results.
A financial analyst took this to heart and worked to elevate his professional brand within the workplace. It wasn’t long before senior leadership noticed a difference in his performance and the value he brought to the team. He soon achieved his goal of being promoted to a finance leadership role.
You are more happy.
Marsha Huber is a happiness researcher and accounting professor at Youngstown State. At first glance, I thought that was an oxymoron. Who would ever think of happiness and accounting fitting together like hand in glove? That’s us, the entrepreneurial CPA tribe!
Anyway, Huber’s research discovered three factors that most strongly impact CPAs’ happiness: hope, calling, and autonomy. We discussed the impact of coaching on hope and calling above, but what about autonomy? Isn’t that what you get by choosing the entrepreneurial CPA route?
Yes, but be careful what you ask for. Not everyone manages their autonomy well. Coaching addresses the benefits and pitfalls of independence that comes with having your own business. How do you deal with the freedom of not having a boss? Or the tension between higher level, strategic needs and day-to- day tactical work? What about never-ending work-life pressures?
Partnering with a coach helps you deal with the overwhelm these tensions (and others) cause. Coaching enables you to get unstuck and move forward again, with a focus on your top priorities and values. It helps you discern what is a big deal—and what’s not.
Coaching helps you reach a state of flow, a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (now there’s a mouthful!). You’re “in the zone,” a state of effortless concentration and enjoyment as you work toward challenging goals.
As one client said, “I find myself enjoying my work more and becoming more successful as a result of our coaching sessions together.” His team and family are happier too!
Here’s the bottom line: coaching helps you move further and faster toward the life and business you want than if you go it alone!
Jon Lokhorst, CPA, ACC, is a leadership coach and consultant based in Lake Geneva, WI. He partners with CPAs, CFOs, and other leaders who face massive change in their industry and recognize the need for a new model of leadership to navigate those challenges. Prior to launching Lokhorst Consulting LLC, Jon enjoyed a 30-plus year career as a CPA, CFO, and organizational leader. He has a Masters in Organizational Leadership and is recognized by the International Coach Federation as an Associate Certified Coach. Jon serves as adjunct faculty in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University and writes and speaks regularly on a variety of leadership topics.