[IMGCAP(1)]As a nation, we spend an awful lot of time and effort (and money) determining who will lead us, whether it's for president of the United States or president of the local PTA.
We agonize over the candidates: What kind of person are they? What kind of leader, what kind of spouse, parent, boss, bake-sale organizer? They're going to have all the perks and powers of office (nuclear weapons, helicopters, keys to the cafeteria) for four years, and it's awfully hard to get rid of a sitting leader before the end of their term, so it only makes sense to learn as much as we can about them. (Whether our current way of asking is the best method is a separate issue ... .)
Many of the same issues apply when it comes to picking a new managing partner for an accounting firm. It's not easy to find qualified candidates, and it's not easy to get rid of a bad choice. This is one of the unspoken reasons so many of the profession's thought leaders are strongly urging firms to get serious about their succession planning: If you mess it up—if you take too long, don't think it through, end up making snap decisions without adequate thought or research—you can be stuck with the wrong leaders, and once someone gets into the corner office, it can be very hard to pry them out of it.
In a later column, we'll explore the more effective and untraceable methods of defenestrating low-performing MPs (actual defenestration, it turns out, is illegal in most states, but "accidentally" leaving an incontinent Capuchin monkey in the corner office of the unwanted executive over the weekend is legal and sends a very effective message). I've got a lot of other ideas on this subject, and look forward to hearing yours.
For now, though, I want to focus on what makes the kind of managing partner that you won't want to defenestrate. You can never tell beforehand if a person will make a good leader—but you can almost always tell afterward, and to that end we've launched our new MP Elite list. We're asking firms of all sizes from across the country to submit information about their managing partners to help us identify some of the best, and we'll pick a cross-selection to highlight in our October issue.
We've posted the submission form online, and you can tell some of the things we think make a great managing partner from the questions we ask—but we are also asking what makes each MP special, what makes them stand out, what elements of their leadership are different from the basics like revenue growth and keeping staff on board.
One of the first steps in picking a leader should be picking what you think a leader should be, and one of the best ways to do that is to find out what the best leaders are like.
We're hoping you'll help us find out.
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