We are very excited to feature our friend and colleague, Marc Rosenberg in this month’s Leadership Spotlight. Marc is a nationally known consultant, author and speaker on CPA firm management, strategy and partner issues. President of his own Chicago-based consulting firm, The Rosenberg Associates, he is founder of an insights-packed, authoritative annual survey of mid-sized CPA firm performance statistics in the country, The Rosenberg Survey. He shares his expertise regularly on The Marc Rosenberg Blog.
Accounting Today has acknowledged Marc Rosenberg as one of Top 100 Most Influential People in the CPA profession for the past 11 consecutive years and INSIDE Public Accounting has repeatedly recognized him as one of the Ten Most Recommended CPA Firm Consultants. The industry’s leading publications regularly quote Marc and he is the author of a host of wonderful practice management guides. Here’s what Marc had to say when we asked him to share his leadership perspective:
ConvergenceCoaching: Whose leadership style do you most admire and why?
MR: The common thread to the three leaders below is this: Many people love the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” These leaders would say: “If it doesn’t need fixing, break it.” This means that great organizations continuously reinvent themselves by challenging existing ways. What seems to be working today will likely fail miserably in next 5 years or so. What may work for other firms may not work for you.
- Roberto Goizueta - Late CEO of Coca Cola for 20 years, widely considered one the best CEOs of a Fortune 500 company ever. He said: “Challenging the status quo when you have been successful is difficult. If you think you will be successful running your business in the next 10 years the way you did the last 10 years, you’re out of your mind. To succeed, we have to disturb the present.”
- Steve Jobs – As the CEO of a major company, Jobs made an enormous impact on the lives of people across the globe. He didn’t just achieve this by being innovative. He was a fastidious believer in high quality and design, teamwork, strategic planning and the need to pursue your dreams, however outlandish they may seem to others. He put none on a pedestal. Ever.
- Mark Murovitz - Now retired, Mark was a senior partner at Laventhal & Horwitz when it folded in the 1990s. Mark started a new firm from scratch and built Tauber & Balse, into a $12M firm that merged with Atlanta-based HAW in 2010 or so. I had the privilege of doing a lot of consulting work with T&B and I learned a lot from Mark. For the high-powered, immensely successful person that he was, Mark had no ego. He was always charming and professional. He had a great sense of humor. He had this amazing style of addressing difficult, sensitive subjects with people while wearing a half-smile on his face. He was clearly the leader, respected as such by everyone in the firm, but never dictatorial. He was always interested in what people had to say. He was a strong believer in specialization. I’ve never worked harder on planning and facilitating partner retreats than I did for T&B because Mark was driven to convene these meetings in ways that had a high impact while thinking outside the box.
ConvergenceCoaching: What do you think the single most important leadership attribute or characteristic is and why?
MR: There is no one thing. There are several, not in any order:
- Ability to focus people on the most important tasks and challenges.
- Goal oriented.
- Uncompromising commitment to high quality.
- Ability to keep things simple.
- Willingness to delegate liberally while remembering that you can delegate the work but never the responsibility. Give people the flexibility to do work their way as long as they get the job done and do quality work. Rarely is perfection justified: Perfection is the enemy of good enough and good enough accomplishes the mission.
- Organized; instead of trusting your memory to meet deadlines and expectations, become systems-centric, not individual person-centric.
ConvergenceCoaching: What do you look for in young up-and-coming leaders?
- Someone who is coachable and trainable and seeks mentoring
- Someone who continually challenges me
ConvergenceCoaching: How do you develop leadership in others?
- Minimize lecturing
- Teach by example
- Err on the side of giving staff more responsibility and authority
- Being a good mentor
- Always keeping them challenged
ConvergenceCoaching: What advice do you have for those looking to step into a leadership position in their firms or businesses?
MR: Be ambitious, but master what you have now before pushing for advancement. Ask for more work. Seek mentors and listen to what they have to say. Find something you are passionate about, become “famous” for being an expert in this area and exploit opportunities. Be assertive and vocal with management. NEVER let them intimidate you, but be respectful. Be proactive; become known as someone who make the partners look good and can be relied upon.
ConvergenceCoaching: What three words best describe your leadership style?
- Goal orientation
Listening to Marc’s answers to these questions made me think of the word “mastery.” He mentioned that he admired Mark Murovitz and his strong belief in specialization. Marc also encourages people to seek mastery before pushing for advancement.
I too, am a big believer in the importance of “mastering your craft.” Specialization and mastery is something that should be valued and shouldn’t be sacrificed for advancement, ambition and/or gaining knowledge and skill in a wide variety of areas. What do you think?