Feb 18, 2019

CPAs: Keep an Eye on Long-Term Goals, Even During the Heat of Busy Season

By Maureen Renzi, vice president – communications

In the fall of 2018, the Pittsburgh Chapter sponsored its Emerging Leaders Conference. I had the pleasure to hang out with 24 young professionals who had an opportunity to gain practical advice on how to lead from consultants and noted military leaders. The two-day program included exercises to identify leadership goals and map out a plan to become a leader.

Attendees of the PICPA Pittsburgh Chapter Emerging Leaders ConferenceIn October, the participants were motivated and excited to move forward with their newly developed plans. Now, busy season is here. I thought I’d check back with them to see how they were doing, and to ask them what steps they were taking to ensure that their hectic daily demands do not derail their long-term career goals. Here’s some good advice from people who are clearly motivated to lead:

  • One of the things that helps me stay focused on my long-term goals is to write down key words from my goals on a Post-it note and stick it on my computer monitor. That way, when I am feeling the pressure of my day-to-day work, I can look at the Post-it and remember what I am working toward. Also, by always having my goals visible, it is a reminder to incorporate things in my day-to-day work that will help me achieve those goals.
  • I set aside time to do a weekly check-in with myself. I look back over the goals I set, evaluate the progress made toward them in the week prior (and as a whole), and then decide if I need to make any changes/adjustments for the upcoming week in order to keep making progress toward that goal.
  • I did a reverse "to-do" list, which is working better than expected! I outlined my SMART goals (strategic, measurable, actionable, reportable, timely) on what kind of leader I want to be in one year, and then what I need to have done 9 months in, 6 months in, 3 months in, and now. It's motivating seeing it listed this way because if I don't focus on getting my "now" goals done, I know I'll be behind for my total timeline.
  • One theme of leadership that resonates most with me is that leadership is about consistency. There is not one act of service or training that you can attend to become a great a leader, but instead it is about consistently delivering a quality product by going above and beyond in everyday tasks and interactions. The best way to meet long-term leadership goals is to continue to build relationships and deliver quality work each and every day.
  • I focus on one small goal to accomplish each week. This way I can manage day-to-day responsibilities while still working toward achieving my longer-term goals.
  • Something I’ve done to continue work on my long-term leadership goals was join the PICPA Pittsburgh Chapter executive committee! I haven’t been formally part of a leadership group since I left college, so it’s helping me to “sharpen the saw” with regard to my leadership skills. While this is my own personal way of staying focused on my long-term leadership goals, I think that the idea for others can be summarized in one word: Practice! Like anything else, being a leader takes practice, so even during this busy season joining a committee or group leadership of some sort (even if it’s not related to accounting) can really help you hone in on how to work with all different kinds of people. A lot of times, joining group leadership can be a monthly meeting commitment as well as addressing items as you have time – which fits well for a busy CPAs schedule!
  • For me, the key to achieving long-term leadership goals is to always ensure you have time for interaction with coworkers, superiors, and direct reports, and to understand that those interactions are key to building a successful organization. Additionally, I stay focused on big picture philosophies, goals, and objectives through the detailed minutiae of individual deadlines and responsibilities.
  • I've implemented 15-minute morning meetings with my team in which each of us gives an update or brings something beneficial or positive to the table. I've used this time to continue working toward my leadership goals, and have found it to be very successful.

This is a group of young CPAs from whom we expect great things in the future. The PICPA and the Pittsburgh Chapter could not be more proud. I’d like to thank the following participants for their willingness to share their ideas: James Boland, Kenny Bonus, Brittany Jovenall, Mark Lyons, Illona Matsko, Daniel P. Starceski, Joseph Sterf, and Stephanie D. Wright.

If you know an emerging leader in the Pittsburgh Chapter, consider their nomination later this year for participation in the 2019 Emerging Leaders Conference. Maybe that person is you, and your ideas could be shared next year.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.