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Succession planning is on the minds of leaders at accounting firms across the country, and one of the key issues there is developing the next generation – an area the top workplaces in the profession are extensively focused on.

Virtually all of the 2018 Best Firms to Work For (96) offer employees attendance at leadership workshops or other formal leadership education forums, and a similarly overwhelming number (93) offer support for staff who take on leadership roles in volunteer organizations in their community.

“Leadership development is an integral part of our care,” said Pennsylvania’s Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz, which sponsors employees for the local Leadership Harrisburg/Lancaster Programs. It also has its own BSSF Emerging Professionals Program, with continuing education courses and memberships to professional organizations paid for by the firm.

In Texas, Cornwell Jackson has its own Future Leaders Development Program, which the firm described as “comprised of industry-specific training on the qualities needed to become a partner at CJ, and direct partner mentoring/involvement in firm management initiatives.”

Similarly, Nebraska’s Lutz offers three leadership programs, a management skills training series, as well as a business development class. “These programs promote practice development and encourage strong relationships with both co-workers and in the community,” according to the firm.

Firms also reach out for leadership training; managers at Maryland’s E. Cohen & Co., for instance, attend a two-year management training program through accounting firm association PrimeGlobal. “This program is designed to supplement internal mentoring and development programs, and sessions are run by highly regarded practice management and business development experts,” the firm said.

Interestingly, books play a major role in the way two different firms help develop their staff: Missouri’s Wilson Toeller has a “leadership library” that consists of a collection of business and leadership books that are available to all the firm’s staff, while Maryland’s Santos, Postal & Co. runs a book club where it buys a business-oriented book for any participating staff member and then provides a catered lunch for participants to discuss what they’ve read.

Wilson Toellner doesn’t just rely on books, though: “Our firm utilizes an outside trainer, who spends one week per month with our firm, to train team members on leadership, team building and other core (soft) skills,” the firm reported.

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