Diane Medley is Managing Partner of Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP, listed by Accounting Today as the 82nd-largest accounting firm in the United States. MCM is the only Kentucky-based firm ever to crack the Top 100 Firms list and Diane is the only female Managing Partner on the Top 100 list, too. “It’s not just growth for growth’s sake,” said Managing Partner Diane Medley. “We are focused on adding value to our clients and services, and we believe the future holds a lot of opportunity.” MCM moved up 20 spots since March 2012 when Accounting Today ranked MCM as the 102nd-largest accounting firm nationally, and the 9th-largest firm in the Southeast Region.
Diane also serves as Managing Member of Meritrust Wealth Management. Her practice focuses on financial planning and goal setting, individual and corporate tax, with areas of concentration in litigation support, business valuation, and business transition consulting.
ConvergenceCoaching: Whose leadership style do you most admire and why?
DM: I admire a leadership style that sets a clear vision, one anchored in a firm-wide goal that everyone can work toward within their individual roles. Universal buy-in of such a big picture goal is typically achieved via the leader’s collaborative planning, and ability to motivate team leaders in a way that will be strategic, measurable and able to trickle down throughout the organization.
ConvergenceCoaching: What do you think the single most important leadership attribute or characteristic is and why?
DM: The ability to listen to others, and use their voices to create a vision. Many leaders are good listeners and many others are good at setting a vision. But the exceptional leaders are able to listen to their partners and team members, distill the information and state an inspiring goal for the organization as a whole.
ConvergenceCoaching: What do you look for in young up-and-coming leaders?
DM: Up-and-coming leaders in our firm must be able to see the vision of the firm and find their place in it. This means that they can articulate their own goals, they can understand the purpose of the firm’s goals and they can use this information to inspire their peers and those that they manage.
ConvergenceCoaching: How do you develop leadership in others?
DM: We take a multi-pronged approach to develop leadership in others. First, we believe that all team members need to understand what leadership is with the belief that everyone can be a leader in their own space. To foster this, we have each team member attend a 7 Habits for Highly Effective People training session upon joining the firm – this is all levels, from associates to partners, and is led by the Managing Partners and other firm leaders.
We have regular leadership training for our supervisor level team members and above, tailored to the focus of the firm. This has included book studies or group discussions led by firm leaders or outside experts.
In addition, we have two standing groups that receive additional exposure to leadership training. Our Next Gen group is a think-tank organization with three-year terms, and our Leadership Academy includes a select group of potential partners that undergo a 6-month program of classroom study, followed by a self-selected group project to assist the firm with important issues.
ConvergenceCoaching: What advice do you have for those looking to step into a leadership position in their firms or businesses?
DM: I would suggest that the individual study great leaders and participate in a variety of diverse leadership programs. I don’t believe that CPA-driven programs alone are sufficient; there are many external development options that add an extra dimension of knowledge and experience.
I would also suggest that aspiring leaders develop a strategy for getting to know those in his or her organizational orbit on an individual level. The leader is only as good as the knowledge they have about what the team is thinking or feeling. This knowledge is best built and acted upon as professional relationships develop, so I believe the process should begin early in an aspiring leader’s career.
ConvergenceCoaching: What three words best describe your leadership style?
Collaborative: I always take the time to achieve consensus before making a decision; this has proven to be invaluable in ensuring that decisions are well thought out and supported prior to being rolled out.
Driven for Excellence: My team knows that I have high expectations for myself, them and the firm. Our firm goals and expectations are high. I am never satisfied with the status quo. I get up every day focused on helping the team, and the firm, get better and better.
People Focused: My team knows that I truly care about them professionally and personally. I take the time to personally teach the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and other classes to distinguish the importance of the material to the firm. I also regularly meet with our people in small groups or individually for breakfast, lunch or coffee to get to know them one-on-one.
Congratulations to Diane and her entire team at MCM LLP for achieving impressive growth, focusing on people development and maintaining a high level of service excellence. This firm is a great example of the rewards of vision, commitment and leadership development strategies.
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