The accounting profession is blessed with many leaders at firms of all sizes who are dedicated to client service and hard work. Many of the characteristics that make these leaders successful now will be just as important in the future. A growing body of knowledge and an evolving industry, however, mean new competencies and careful planning must come into the mix for future leaders to excel.Succession planning and developing future leaders are issues that all accounting firms face today — especially as Baby Boomers leave or prepare to leave the profession. In many firms the runway is getting shorter and even reaching a crisis point in some cases. Too often I hear the question, “Who is going to buy me out?” rather than, “We are developing managers and future leaders.”

Several years ago I conducted a survey of partners from several firms to find out the criteria they are using to identify potential leaders and partners. The following are representative of their answers:

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