IN OUR OPINION, PERSPECTIVE #82 — May 13, 2019
(A Continuing Series for Leading CPA Firms)
“THE POWER OF WILLINGNESS”
|“ When you are a team that fails to connect, you will be a team that fails to win.” — Mike Smith|
Did you ever have success forcing someone to do something that they were not willing or motivated to do? Yes, you could force someone but that is not willingness. That is not giving power to the “P” and “O” of the POWER model (purpose/why, ownership). When someone takes ownership of a strategy or major process change with the right motivation and willingness and the purpose – the Big WHY, is clearly understood, the path from “Talk to Results”ä will always lead to success. Motivation driving willingness gives ownership the power of commitment.
This is the fourth in a series relating to driving change in your small or mid-sized CPA firm – and moving from “Talk to Results”ä. Previous perspectives focused on the Power of Purpose and the Power of Ownership. Understanding the purpose provides emotional buy-in and the ownership provides the commitment. The combination of “P” and “O” creates a strong foundation for success. The “W” creates the strength in ownership – the motivation the individual(s) have in taking ownership.
Individuals take ownership to something too often for the wrong reason – not out of willingness driven by the right motivation, but out of a misconception or expected reward. Too often, the motivation for taking ownership is based on an expected reward such as a bonus or a promotion. This self-motivation although helpful, is not what is needed to successfully drive change. Ownership has to be taken based on the greater motivation of what is best for the firm. Focus on firm first will make ownership reflect a magnet-like attraction where everyone will willingly help the individual or team be successful, and therefore the implementation of the strategy or process change successful.
All of us have or had partners who were motivated by self rather than a firm first attitude. When these partners seek help for something, others pitch in because they have to. They will help but it’s like being a baseball player and only looking for a single when capable of a home run or running a 7-minute mile when the ability is there to run a 5-minute mile. The individual gets on base or crosses the finish line but the team (the firm) loses based on a less than potential effort. Everyone benefits and the team wins when the glue is firm first versus a team where the primary winner is the individual.
Successfully implementing a strategy or process change requires a motivated and willing team and team leader. A team will follow a leader over the wall when the team respects the team leader and his/her motivation is centered on the firm The collective willingness of the team is the strength that will drive the implementation of the strategy or major process change over the finish line – every time.
A great coach said that when team members connect and build strong relationships, they work for each other and not with each other. The power of the team is based on a collective willingness to work towards a common goal for the benefit of the whole – the firm.
How do you decide how to select the right individual(s)? Too often the selection is based on who has the time (ugh) or who the current process owner is. Sometimes a call goes out for volunteers. So, how do you assess individual motivation and willingness?
When you assess willingness, what you are assessing is the person’s motivation and attitude. You need to select individuals/team leaders who have the right motivation, the right attitude and the willingness to put forth the effort to succeed. Any successful team or individual must have an unselfish, firm first attitude. A successful team is formed when individuals with a similar interest come together and commit to a common purpose – successful implementation of strategy or process change. The team members or individual must think of the firm first and all other personal interests should be secondary.
The challenge most firms encounter in driving organizational change is ensuring that those entrusted with ownership and responsibility to drive change possess the right willingness, motivation and attitude to put forth the effort in and keep the firm first.
There are any number of reasons, some good and some not so good, why you would select person A or B. Here is an assessment model to apply in evaluating a potential team leader or individual for a critical strategy or process implementation:
No. Individual does not really want to be involved. The person has no interest and would need too much direction and support to be helpful.
Possible. Individual will do the work if required but can be reactive, avoids responsibility and lacks self-motivation.
Definite Team Member. Individual will do the work and works well with others, needs supervision and not a take charge person.
Team Leader. Internally self-motivated, works well with others, team oriented, requires minimal supervision, has a track record of consistent performance and is a self-starter who solves problems before they become issues.
The “W” in the POWER model is critical to successful change since it ensures that the individual charged with implementation is willing, motivated and has the right firm first attitude.
In Our Opinion, ensuring that the person(s) you select to successfully implement a strategy or drive a process change is motivated and willing to do what it takes for the betterment of the firm will always move your firm from “Talk to Results”ä.
Just like ownership and responsibility have to be taken versus given, a strong willingness to perform with the proper firm first motivation must be self-driven. Willingness, coupled with ownership and responsibility energized by the Power of Purpose (the WHY) will create success for your firm and in the end, whatever the change is that you are working to implement, it will be successfully implemented, every time.
Tony Zecca (CPA and retired CohnReznick partner and National Director of the Advisory Group) is a ESPOSITO CEO2CEO consultant who is brought into client assignments when needed. ESPOSITO CEO2CEO, LLC — a boutique advisory firm consulting to leading CPA and other professional services firms on strategy, succession planning and mergers, acquisitions and integration is actively led by Dom Esposito, CPA. Dom, voted as one of the most influential people in the profession for two consecutive years by Accounting Today, authored a book, published by www.CPATrendlines.com., entitled “8 Steps to Great” which is a primer for CEOs, managing partners and other senior partners. In Our Opinion, is a continuing series of perspectives for leading CPA firms where Dom and his colleagues share insights, experiences and wisdom with firm leaders who want to “run with the big dogs” and develop their firms into sustainable brands. Dom welcomes questions and can be contacted at either firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.292.3277.