Accountants don’t pitch

Okay, most accountants are not comfortable making a sales pitch for new business.  But, who among you wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to present clients with your specific expertise?

A managing partner recently explained to me, “we now speak of growth, not sales and marketing.”  At first I thought he was joking. He wasn’t.

It seems a little ironic that in a time when most firms need new clients and to expand services in existing clients, that leadership would avoid talking about selling.  How can we separate sales from growth?  Growth is what you get after having made a successful sale.  No sale, no growth.

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own” Henry Ford

May I suggest that Henry Ford’s words have captured the art of the sale.  The ability to grasp the clients point of view and see things from the clients angle, as well as your own.  That is the essence of a great sale.


Explain things

If you will take the time to explain, people will be less inclined to complain.

A partner shared with me recently that he felt like he was running the complaint department.  Every phone call seemed to be someone sharing their disapproval or frustration with all the change, new procedures and how things weren’t working out like they thought.

Leading people through complex change or difficult times takes patience and a willingness to communicate why the actions being taken are necessary. Explaining what you need them to do and why it is important for them and the firm is probably the most important task of the leader.  Remember the old saying, “if you don’t give people information, they will create it.”  And, I might add, you may not like what they come up with.

After you have explained it once, explain it again.  And, again.

When people are sick of hearing you explain it and talk about it, you are about to get through to them.  So, explain on.


First among equals

Personal performance in a matrix organization will be shaped by the kind of respect and deference you show toward the people who are critical to your success.  When it comes to leadership in the professional service firm, we like our leaders to take a first among equals role.

German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, said, “Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.”

People are ends.  Meaning, their personal development in itself is a worthy goal, to the exclusion of other goals.  Building a healthy, growing firm can also be a worthwhile exclusive goal.  Great leaders create an environment where both become possible; people realizing their potential as they cooperate with others in advancing the enterprise.

Understanding how to balance the dignity of the individual in the execution of the firms goals is the task of leaders.