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Podcast: There is more than one way to excel at leadership

Written on Jan 2, 2019

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

ritakellerLeadership, much like everything in business, is evolving rapidly. But CPAs need to keep an open-mind when it comes to the future and execution of leadership.

“Effective leaders today have much more of a flexible style than was used the past,” said Rita Keller, CPA firm management consultant.

Keller has been a respected voice in CPA firm management for more than 30 years. She is repeatedly named on the annual Top 100 Most Influential People In Accounting by Accounting Today along with the Most Powerful Women in Accounting by CPA Practice Advisor. Her daily blog, Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders, touches on everything from four-day work weeks to becoming a consulting firm.

She joined us recently on the State of Business podcast to discuss what leadership looks like in 2019, discussing the common mistakes leaders make, developing leadership as a skill and more.

“I would advise leaders to communicate, communicate, communicate, and ask people for their feedback,” Keller said.

She also suggested leaders proactively approach staff about issues they’ve having, instead of only informing them about updates and company decisions after the fact. This approach offers you a chance to engage more and understand the issues you need to solve.

Communication also plays into the importance of current leaders finding staff who are interested in leadership roles. Keller said it’s naïve to assume that everyone has their eye on a C-suite position, and to instead discuss regularly with staff about their long-term career plans and how you can help them be successful.

“Do you really know what your people want and do you spend the time to get to know them?” Keller said. “Some of them from an early age you’ll see have the passion and drive. And some people it takes a while to develop that spark. I think there needs to be more work done to identify who wants to be a leader.”

Much of the changes in leadership can be attributed to the younger generation pushing for more, Keller said, such as work-life integration and a stronger sense of their future at a company.

“It’s a tough profession,” she said. “There’s no hiding from that, but it’s a wonderful place to build your career. If you really want to build the career and be very successful, you can do it in public accounting.”

Click here to listen to the entire episode.