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Tips to Elevate & Advance Yourself as a Leader

Sep 27, 2019

“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.”
-John Maxwell

The Indiana CPA Society Leadership Council (LC) and Young Professional Leadership Academy (YPLA) recently met in Indianapolis for their fall meeting, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the strong pipeline of leaders in our profession.

The day's purpose is to equip current and emerging leaders with tools they can apply in their roles. We started with networking and a joint LC/YPLA session before breaking into separate groups to focus on skills and discussions that aligned with our respective years of experience.

Jon Lokhorst and Jamar Cobb-Dennard, J.D., facilitators for LC and YPLA, shared actionable and impactful high-performance, coaching and leadership ideas. Through a panel discussion, experts shared their experiences with leadership. In prior years, topics ranged from knowledge management with Dr. David Griffiths, Human Factor One founder, to innovation, integrated reporting and competency-based learning. This year, Jon and Jamar shared great leadership suggestions from change management to employee engagement.

Key Takeaways & Refreshers:

  1. Jamar talked about “visualiz[ing] your end,” “find an advocate” in your corner, and “engage your tribe.”
  2. Change is inevitable. Per Jon, “the pace of change is never going to be slower than today. Change is a reality.”
  3. Leadership is 360 degrees.
  4. Culture: Create an environment of trust. Know your team individually.
  5. High-performance leadership: To quote Jon, “Technical skills get you a seat at the table. It’s what you do that are nontechnical that stand out.” This is where leadership resides. Having served in capacity as chief business and financial officer, I really appreciated how Jon described the role as CFO+ — “plus,” as it can encompass business administration, human resources, information technology, etc. Many CFOs find themselves responsible for the non-direct program/sales and non-marketing functions.
  6. Cross-pollination of thought: Diversity of thought and experiences enable you to leverage talent and see the results from a high-level perspective. Know how to connect the dots and how all the moving parts orchestrate together.
  7. When you ascend into a leadership position, people start to see you differently. Invite upward leadership — since they see you differently, you will get better ideas and feedback from teams.
  8. Lock into a common vision and goal with the right people on the right seat on the right bus.
  9. One can lead irrespective of title or role.
  10. Engage your team when creating norms or rules. Leverage brainstorming strategies, like sticky note sessions! This helps with buy-in, accountability and ownership, and idea generation. Also include mission moments/success stories/program impact/outcomes and your mission statement on meeting agendas.

Leadership Action Items:

  1. Continue connecting with emerging leaders including members of our YPLA, as well as others.
  2. Look for new ways to help bridge potential new members to the Society.
  3. Continue advocating on behalf of our profession as a CPA Advocate by promoting great initiatives led by the Society and building relations with legislators.
  4. Finish reading “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, et al.
  5. Pick up copies of “Leading with Vision” by Bonnie Hagemann and “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling.

If you have yet to engage with INCPAS in a volunteer leadership capacity like this one, I strongly encourage you to do so. To borrow from Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why,” here is my why: I've been a member since 2004 and am thankful for what the Society continues to do for my career. I engage with several membership associations and can confidently say the dedicated INCPAS team is top notch and cares deeply about you and the CPA profession. INCPAS, its partners and volunteers advocate on behalf of the profession, support each other through multiple avenues of resources, provide quality professional development, give members a voice, and offer a solid framework for networking.

Your engagement benefits both our profession and your individual career. You benefit from increasing experiences and opportunities. From high-performance leadership, operations, knowledge management, emotional intelligence, leadership versus management, emerging technologies, innovation, critical thinking, soft and technical skills, coaching, employee engagement, etc. — the opportunities to grow are endless. You learn a lot, and your career accelerates exponentially. Come join us! We can use your help.

How can you get involved? Reach out to any outstanding leader in LC or YPLA. You will find many talented CPAs throughout the state who are transforming business. Engage on the CPA Center of Excellence® online community. Members regularly post and answer questions in our private online open forum.

As we each bring a unique lens to any scenario, your thoughts and comments add value to our collective knowledge base, whether that's face-to-face serving in a volunteer role or virtually through the online community.

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John Minnich, CPA, CFRM, CGMA, MAcct
About the Author

John Minnich, CPA, CFRM, CGMA, MAcct, is a full-time faculty member with Purdue University Fort Wayne. He facilitates both MBA and undergrad courses, and serves on university committees, including the Grad Policy Council. He consults with emerging and current business and financial leaders. In the community, he serves on the INCPAS Leadership Council, Professional Development Committee, and as a CPA Advocate. He also serves on many boards in the Fort Wayne area. Find out more at