How does a partner in Practice measure up to being the leader they need to be?

We all completed our training and passed exams to become reliable technicians in our profession. Next, some of us aspired to become partners and even develop and run our own practices. Of course, we never had the time to think about what additional skills we needed to be a partner and a leader, we just were busy getting on with the job in hand weren't we!

That was my story anyway....does it sound a familiar one?

The profession and life in public practice has indeed changed over the years. Partners now have to be the equivalent of Financial Directors,Business Advisors,Tax Experts,Compliance Officers,Human Resource and Employment Directors,Operational,Technical and Marketing Directors as well as sources of inspiration and motivation- and that's just to run your own practice !

There are a number of books and courses on leadership skills but often as not these are perceived as being a little 'pink and fluffy' to meet the needs and demands of a partner in practice; a partner who never has enough hours in the day just to get their work done and keep clients happy never mind any form of personal development which is seen as a luxury.

Given that I am very much aware of this reality, I have listed here in bullet point format what makes a good leader in practice.It is based on personal experience combined with talking regularly with partners in practice and what makes the successful ones stand apart from the competition;

What would happen if you took 5 minutes to ask yourself if you are seen to demonstrate the attributes below and score yourself ? I hope it helps you in getting to where you want to be.

  • All successful leaders have a very clear vision of what they are trying to achieve and what the timeframe is to achieve it in
  • Have a written business plan which covers both personal and business goals
  • Continually strive to work 'on' and not 'in' the business
  • Value their time and how best to use it
  • Know exactly what is going on with their own business re; work in progress,billing,debtors, workflow production and cashflow
  • Obtain regular client feedback
  • Survey their staff regularly on what they think of the firm and the partners
  • Ensure they have adequate working capital in place to invest in growth, marketing ,IT and recruitment ongoing
  • Put the highest value on personal time and the importance of breaks and time away from the office
  • Be prepared to say 'no' and only work with the 'right' type of client to meet the practices' growth and business plans
  • Have strongly developed systems in place to help them achieve their goals and objectives and free up their time
  • Enlist the help of third parties to help where they know they need to 'buy in' skills they don't have themselves or have the time to develop them
  • Develop excellent time management skills
  • Focus doing what only a leader should do
  • Have excellent delegation skills
  • Trust and train your team so they can be relied on
  • Continually work on communicating
  • Continually work on listening...not just to the sound of their own voices.
  • The most successful leaders and partners listen more than they talk !
  • Have a written strategy and plan on how to make their business plan and goals happen
  • Value their staff as the most important asset they have in the business
  • Make the staff feel special and appreciated
  • Share the business plan with everyone who works for the practice and let each person know the part they can play in making the plan happen
  • Ask staff for ideas and take them on board
  • Take personal criticism on the chin and be prepared to do something about it !
  • Be prepared to accept that you don't know everything or more than everyone else.
  • Accept change and embrace continual learning

As always, the above list contains summary headlines to provide food for thought and action. My list is based on what I have seen to work best for partners in practices who are achieving excellent results; both financially and personally in being able to spend less time at work and focus on other things which are important to them.

I am happy to answer e-mail questions on any area in more detail if readers want to contact me direct at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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