Cohort 10 | Chicago
October 18 - October 20, 2021
& May 16 - May 18, 2022
This rigorous training is spread over two three-day sessions: one in the fall, and one in the following spring (attendance at both sessions is mandatory and included in your registration). Cohort groups are kept intentionally small (classes limited to 12 seats each) to encourage peer-to-peer learning, candor, and confidentiality.
Session 1 Agenda:
Welcome & Introductions
Foundational Building Blocks of Success: Getting Vision, Purpose & Values Right
Do you want to get your culture right, keep people accountable, productive and moving in the same direction together? Do you want to attract the right talent and keep your best? Do you need to work on your marketing strategy and/or your client development strategy? Are you trying to grow your business? Do you want to find easier ways to make and communicate decisions? Firms that have clear vision, purpose and a set of core values to guide their decision making, accelerate their ability to grow, find clear ways to market their uniqueness, attract talent and clients more readily and keep people aligned and accountable because everyone has a shared sense of the future and what matters most in getting there.
Where Are We Going? An Industry Outlook
Keeping up with trend setters is defense. Becoming a trend setter is offense. Although it’s certainly important to understand what our industry is up to, we don’t just want to mimic the successes of others. In this session, we’ll identify trends in the industry in order to project a vision for the future of your own firm, enabling you to outpace your competition and position you to create strategic competitive advantage.
Dinner & Book Discussion (Building Blocks, G. Shamis)
Lead with the Right Kinds of Conversations
When we’re leading remote and blended teams, the way your firm structures communication is critical to your firm’s productivity and success. Leaders must know how to keep their teams in synch and effective. Leaders also need to feel confident and competent leading “difficult conversations” including sharing and receiving feedback and navigating tense and awkward situations. We’ll focus on how to have connecting conversations even when the conversations are hard to have.
The Three Components of a Successful Firm: Strategy, Execution & Change Management
Too often, firms design highly detailed, sweeping strategic plans. Although the architects are well-meaning and intensely invested, the plans break down under practice as actionable items get mired in the details. The relationship of time spent on the plan to time spent on execution becomes skewed and the plan yields few measurable results. In this session, we’ll learn what it takes to create a strategic plan that is actionable, realistic, and measurable.
Presenting: Your Single Most Powerful Business & Communication Tool
We’ve all sat through presentations that were dry and unengaging. Our most important ideas are regularly conveyed in front of a group yet often presenters rely too heavily on PowerPoints and buzzwords. Our persuasive success requires we have the charisma and skill to narrate these ideas in a meaningful yet relatable way. In this session, we’ll review the tools and techniques necessary to hone a skill that remains essential to our success as thought leaders.
7 Dimensions of a Thriving Team Culture
In session two, we’ll discuss the how and the why of culture. What defines culture? Why is it important? How does it affect the success of your business? What control do you have over the kind of culture your organization has?
Accelerate Collaboration with the Right Technologies
You may already have the right tools and technologies to keep people connected and productive (and no, it’s not just email). The problem is you may not be unlocking their full potential for collaboration, communication and productivity. If your teams haven't developed agreements and conducted experiments to figure out what works for everyone, we’ll teach you how.
Dinner & Book Discussion (Built to Last, J. Collins)
Self-care and Energy Management
Steering a firm to world-class stature requires a holistic approach – not just to the firm but to our everyday lives. Because running a firm is so mentally and physically challenging, and because there are so many demands on our time, we can only invest in our firms what we invest in ourselves. In this session, we’ll learn why it behooves you to take a wellness-minded approach to your living and fold that into your firm culture.
Tips & Tricks
As CPAs, we’re well equipped to understand the financial aspects of our practices. But our firms can’t be managed well through numbers alone. Numbers on the balance sheet are a function of the environment shaped by its leaders. Everything from the way you manage your time to the way you interact with your competitors can affect your organization from the top down. Gain practical techniques you can use every day to design your firm, not simply manage it as problems arise.
Closing & Next Steps
Session 2 Agenda:
Overview of Session I, Intro to Session II
A Framework for Organizational Development
Key to an organization’s success is its ability to adapt to change and to generate a collaborative environment. To generate teams that are both cohesive and task focused in an environment where change is rapidly becoming the norm, the key process of organizational development helps groups come together to plan and take effective action for change.
Career Pathing and Succession Planning
Firms that are able to attract and retain the best and most diverse talent, are the ones that create a variety of ways to grow careers. They also have the ability to develop the skills and competencies needed to grow during times of change. In this session, we’ll review the ways that firms can identify the key skills and experiences needed to grow and discuss new ways of establishing career paths for leaders and non-leaders.
Dinner & Book Discussion (Blue Ocean Strategy, R. Mauborgne & W.C. Kim)
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are now the places where a reputation built up over years of good work can be shattered in an instant. In a split second, accountants can find themselves in a position where they need to know how to manage a crisis situation for themselves, their firm or client. Especially in this 24/7 instant news environment, accountants - and their clients - simply cannot wait until a legal decision is rendered. They must be prepared to vigorously defend their situation in a wide variety of stakeholder venues, as well as media outlets. Accounting and legal teams must therefore be prepared to deal with the Court of Public Opinion so they and their client are not declared “guilty” before they can be heard in the Court of Law, perhaps even stopping a situation from spawning a court case at all.
Risk Management & Negotiation Skills
As with anything else, preparedness is key to successful firm management. It is vitally important to anticipate the risks present in the day-to-day operations of any organization. To avoid subjecting your firm to the costs associated with redundancy, errors, and lost time, preliminary mechanisms must be in place for coping with potential liabilities. In this session, we will delineate those risks, define them, and cover the most (and least) effective ways to mitigate those risks.
Identify & Leverage Your Strengths as a Leader
There is no evidence to support that focusing on your weaknesses or the weaknesses of others will get you better results. Research over the last twenty years has clearly shown that our success at work and in our lives comes from the ways we leverage and connect our strengths in new ways. Human beings move in the direction of their strengths, and teams that thrive know each other’s strengths and how to use them at the right times. The best leaders understand that motivation and the ability to work from strengths go hand in hand.
Talent Strategies for Impactful Performance
As we all know, a professional service firm is only as good as its people. The differentiators for service firms are all about the services offered and the expertise given by its people. It stands to reason then that professional service firms would put more emphasis on talent attraction, growth, and retention than anything else. The average turnover rate for CPA firms is 20%. Why is it so hard to hire and keep the best people? We will explore the challenges that CPA firms face in the war for talent and how you can leverage best practices in talent strategy to hire, develop, and retain the best and brightest people for your firm.
A Brand Called You and What It Means to Your Firm
We all know what a brand is. Or do we? Companies have brands. Products have brands. Even services have brands. But we all have a personal brand as well. What does yours say about you? One of the most intimidating factors of a personal brand is perception vs. reality. Do we project what we want people to see or who we really are? In this session, we get personal with a hands-on workshop that helps to clarify branding with images and messages that best reflect us. Your peers will help you to put your best foot forward!
Dinner & Book Discussion (Presence, A. Cuddy)
Three Elements of Effective Practice Growth: Service, Marketing & Business Development
Of course, many components of a firm serve to propel it forward. Chief among them: service culture, marketing, and business development. Where most firms make a mistake is that they silo these functions limiting their potential. When working in tandem, the likelihood for the success and growth of the firm becomes that much more certain. This session will give you the keys to implementing a cross-functional approach to making positive and productive changes to your organization that will yield promising results.
Top Concerns, Open Forum & Close