When people think about accountants, they often narrowly focus on the number crunching aspect of these professionals, but accountants have a lot of other skills. In particular, many accountants have a strong tendency toward leadership. Feel like a natural born leader? There are numerous ways to use that attribute in your career.
Accountants: Natural Leaders
All accountants have some leadership skills. In fact, their profession depends on it. These numbers people typically have a bottom-line focus, which helps them to see which direction a business should move. They’re used to working with numbers, and as numbers never lie, these professionals have a tendency to “tell it like it is.” That often equates to speaking truth to power, and when you’re not afraid to speak up to your clients or the boss of the company, your honest, timely advice can become invaluable.
Many accountants also have heavy doses of natural curiosity and determination. When you’re dealing with small details and lots of paperwork, you need those qualities. That self-start attitude can be essential whether you’re running your own business or leading a department for a company.
Outlets for Leadership
If you’re an accountant who feels like a natural born leader, you may want to find outlets for your leadership skills. On a personal level, consider looking into volunteer opportunities. Many nonprofit boards are constantly looking for a numbers person to round out their team. Alternatively, consider volunteering to teach a class on small business accounting or personal finance at a local community centre. In addition to serving as an outlet for your leadership skills, it can also be a great way to meet new clients and hone your public speaking skills.
A Career Focused on Leadership
Professionally, if you work on your own, you may want to explore leading clients by providing advisory services. Consider applying for in-house leadership positions with an accounting firm or with a business that has a large accounting department. If you want a leadership-level accounting position but lack experience, bolster your resume with some of the volunteer opportunities listed above. Alternatively, get clients to make statements on your leadership abilities. For instance, if you helped a client analyze its numbers and convinced it to move in a new direction, that’s an example of using your leadership powers effectively.
Leading Through Retirement
Being a leader doesn’t have to end when you start retirement. There are numerous ways to continue sharing your leadership skills with the industry long after you stop working full time. In particular, you may want to teach classes or offer mentoring to young accountants or do part-time consulting for businesses. Effective consultants need a blend of knowledge and leadership skills so they can guide their clients in the right direction.
Being a successful accountant requires a huge range of different skills, and if you have a natural tendency toward leadership, you may want to find ways to highlight and utilize that skill during your career. By bringing leadership to the forefront of what you do, you can benefit yourself, your clients, and the industry in general.