Leadership Skills for Your CPA Career


Leadership Skills: An Important Factor for Career Advancement 
The old nature vs. nurture debate is one of the most dated in psychology. Back in the day, the idea that people become the people that they are were attributed to one or the other: you were either born with the genes and hereditary factors necessary to determine everything from your physical appearance to your personality traits, or your surrounding environment from how you were raised to your relationships and culture impact who you are. What does this have to do with the CPA and leadership, you ask? Well, its simple.

Some say that leaders aren’t born; they’re created. But contrary to this saying, wed like to believe that, similar to personal development, leadership is a quality inherent in both nature and nurture. You already know that getting your CPA license is going to give you a huge advantage in the workforce, including everything from bonuses to salary increases to the ability to work anywhere from anywhere in the world since CPAs are in such high demand. But without the proper leadership skills, your career advancement as a CPA can be halted.

Whether you’re a personality A type who loves to interact with others or more of a personality B type who prefers to work autonomously, we believe that every person has the ability to become a great leader. Here’s the why and how this skill is becoming the most important one in the workforce today.

Why leadership? 

If you’re working for an established large corporation or you’ve just hired your first employee as an entrepreneur in a start-up, leadership is the crux to obtaining both personal and professional growth. Today, the job market is more competitive than its ever been as a result of the fluctuating economy as well as people getting their advanced degrees, licenses, and certificates. According to a Deloitte survey taken by Entrepreneur.com in October:

A shortage of skilled workers was perceived as one of the obstacles to growth for more than 35 percent of the 300 C-suite executives polled. Fifty-two percent of the C-suite executives felt that their direct reports did not possess the skills to take on greater leadership roles, and 4 percent reported that a lack of personal ambition and motivation were issues that affected their employees future potential for success.  


As you can see, there are some important factors to take into consideration, and those are the need for leadership training as well as boosts in employee morale. While many companies do offer leadership training, often the models are outdated and do not focus on fostering real connections with real people. As a result, lack of leadership leads to lack of ambition in employees. How can people produce their best work if the person they’re reporting to lacks in motivation, positivity, or encouragement? If you’re looking to open up your own firm as a CPA or are planning to work your way up the corporate ladder, here are some key leadership qualities you can incorporate into your work policy as an employer or employee to make the workplace an environment built for optimal growth for yourself and the company.

How to Implement Key Leadership Qualities 


Honesty is most definitely the best policy. A lot of the time, you will be confronted with a sticky situation that will require you to make a decision. Always choose the ethical one. Doing whats right isn’t just a keystone of a good leader, but a good person. Even if the process may take a little longer, it’ll be worth it in the end because what goes around comes around. This doesn’t just apply to clients, but also goes for superiors and teammates. Don’t make promises you cant keep; speak up when you feel something isn’t right; hold yourself and others accountable for their actions. CPAs are at the forefront of maintaining a company’s financial integrity. If you lead with virtuous morals, you’ll gain respect from your colleagues, making ethical behavior a significant trickle effect that only ever does more good than harm.

Sense of humor

Here’s the honest truth. No one wants to work for or with the guy from the Visine Dry Eyes commercial. If you’re going to be interacting with your teammates day in and day out, your personality is a huge factor in how hard they’re going to be willing to work for you. Having a sense of humor is pretty high on the Richter scale when it comes to likeability. We don’t mean engage in inappropriate practical jokes all the time, but remember that its refreshing to be able to laugh or make others laugh, especially when a project doesn’t come to fruition the way you had planned. So share some good weekend stories, or send an email with a link to that gem of a cat video you found on YouTube over the weekend. A good sense of humor keeps the atmosphere light and comfortable, enabling your team to humanize you and feel closer to you.


This is a big one. And arguably one of the more important ones. Offering support can mean a lot of things, and in this context, we believe that a good leader should encompass all of the following:

1. Inspire: Stay on top of the industry and look for different ways to engage clients and improve the way you’re doing things. Ask your team for their input. Have an open door policy and encourage them to offer insight. Be humble. Many brains are better than one, after all! Motivate them with donuts on Fridays or luncheons and always stay positive. Work smarter, not harder, and your team will do the same.

2.  Collaborate: Every person on the team is a valuable player and aids in the completion of projects and tasks that otherwise cannot be produced alone. Remember to offer feedback to your teammates to give them positive reinforcement as well as areas that they can improve upon. Hold meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Work with them and make sure that their questions are being answered and that they know their part in the whole.

3. Delegate: Use what you know about your team to delegate tasks accordingly. If you know that Bobs strengths are x and y while Margaret is really great in c and d, assign parts of the project that leverage your teams strengths and weaknesses. In another scenario, if you feel that one person on your team has the capacity to do something that he/she hasn’t tried before, take the risk. It will show that you believe in their efforts and trust them. It will also allow some members of the group to shine in areas they otherwise don’t normally get recognized for.


Another important (and perhaps the most important) quality of being a good leader is communication, mostly because it transcends almost everything you do as an employer or employee. Sometimes the vision you have in your mind is crystal clear, but when translated into words, it can come off as jumbled and disconnected. Be articulate and clear. Use visuals and provide examples. Encourage question-asking. Always make sure that you and your team are communicating as often as necessary to improve understanding which will thereby positively affect productivity, accountability, and reachability of overall goals. When you and your team knows exactly whats expected of everyone and they feel that they can come to you to hash out anything, your leadership automatically shines through.

Throw these qualities in with your CPA license, and you’re bound for great career advancement in the years to come.

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