How To Be A Great Firm Leader

Leadership has been something I’ve been growing in for a couple of years now. I even spoke about it at our Deeper Weekend conference last year. During my talk, my perspective was that you are a leader if you are a firm owner. Period. You may be a poor leader or a great leader, but you are still the leader of your firm. It is a fact with the position you hold as the owner of the firm.

What will you do with your position of leadership? Will you hide from your influence as a firm leader, or will you embrace your role and decide to grow in it? As I mentioned, I’ve really been confronted with leadership in the last 2 years, and I began my journey fearful of leadership. I would try to avoid difficult situations. But as I’ve walked this journey, I’ve learned that many leaders have great support networks around them that often go untapped. As a leader, I failed to see the great friends, community, team, partner, and wife I have around me that want nothing more than for me to succeed!

I’m choosing to embrace my role as a leader and grow in it! My partner and I see 2017 as a year like no other. It’s exciting to ponder all of the new things we are about to do, and we are choosing to walk a road that will undoubtedly lead to some amazing new relationships, new value for those around us, and brand new opportunities. I can’t wait to see what this time next year looks like!

In his book How to Be a Great Boss, Gino Wickman spells out what it takes to be a great boss. And he begins by defending the term ‘boss.’ Honestly, I’ve struggled with embracing this term too, but he encourages us as firm leaders to wear the moniker of boss with pride! Wickman says:

“We urge you to wear the title ‘boss’ with pride. You’re in charge. Be in charge. Don’t be apologetic or tiptoe around it.”

He explains that the word ‘boss’ comes from the Dutch word ‘baas,’ which was a term of respect for those responsible for others’ well being. And that is what a firm leader is – someone that is meant to firmly but gently lead others, provide for others, and guide everyone to the same destination. In chapter 2 of the book, Wickman goes further to tackle the question “do you have what it takes?” to be a great firm leader. He breaks down having what it takes into three key areas:

You get it – he describes this as having the aptitude, natural ability, and thorough understanding of the ins and outs of the job, You want it – you sincerely desire the role of firm leader, and
You have the capacity to do it – you possess the emotional, intellectual, physical, and time capacity to be the boss, or leader.

Do you have all three of these? I think we all have them in various balances, but it is good to know thyself in assessing where you stand in the 3 requirements of being a great leader. Let me break down my own personal assessment on these 3 areas of being a leader.

Get it – As a leader, I have the natural empathy and care for others that allows me to lead teams. I really do get it. But, I will say that about 3 years ago, I was beginning to look for a partner that could lead with me in the ways that I struggled. A larger firm with a larger team requires more attention to build structure, processes, team care, HR, and a million other things. I do NOT ‘get’ the way these things needed to be done, and thankfully was able to find a partner that naturally gets the things I do not. Now, we ‘get it’ collectively and that works!

Want it – I want it more than anything. But maybe this is where I’ve struggled in the past the most. Do I want what being a firm leader really means? Being a leader is a calling, and it gets bigger as your vision grows. The vision for our firm and Thriveal is big, so I’m learning to want a new perspective on what leadership is really going to look like for the future. I have answered this question with a resounding yes!

Capacity to do it – I do have most of these attributes, but a lot of these can be in short supply (like time). As you grow, you have to monitor the supply of your capacity to make sure you are not being depleted as a leader. More of everything can quickly overwhelm a leader and keep you from being a great boss. I wasn’t so good at knowing when I was running out of ‘capacity juice,’ so the capacity issue did catch me off guard. This capacity issue also led me to seek out a partner who could help share this load with me.

If you were to assess yourself as a firm leader, how would you rate yourself on the get it, want it, capacity to do it scale? Are you overwhelmed in any one area or multiple areas? Being able to assess your abilities as a firm leader will reap benefits in the future as you grow your firm!

Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children.

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