Talking Earns Promotions, but Listening Makes Good Leaders

I remember a sense of pride in ownership when I became a partner at Moss Adams in 2012. It was amazing to think back on how well the firm prepared me for the new role; giving me leadership opportunities and responsibility throughout my career. I have been taught a leader must understand the fundamentals of his or her business and great leaders understand business is more than just the numbers; it’s the people, culture, and strategy.

Leaders exist at all levels and in all disciplines in an organization. Understanding how you and your team drive success can inform your decisions and style. At Moss Adams, we talk a lot about personal brand when we mentor our women managers. People are known for their brand, and we think of brand in terms of the intersection of strengths and confidence. If you understand your strengths and the value you bring, you will be more authentic in your communication and will instill confidence in the people around you—a client, prospect, colleague, or supervisor.

Another aspect of leadership we continually challenge ourselves with is the Growth Mindset. Our industry is changing rapidly; we have increasing demand for services and more competition for talent than ever before. In order to be a profession of choice, CPA firms must rethink how we operate. Moss Adams is investing heavily in innovation and transformation in all aspects of our practice, from equity to technology and sales to recruiting. There is no stone left unturned in our evaluation.

For me personally, I am focusing my energy on furthering an inclusive and equitable workplace. I was a beneficiary of our women’s advancement initiative many years ago, and like many businesses, we find ourselves with a successful group of women leaders, but we have limited representation from marginalized communities in our leadership ranks. In developing people who have a different background from me, is my desire to be a better listener. I was taught early on to speak up, to question, to promote myself, and to be vocal to be heard. Talking skills led me to early promotions, but listening skills are more important as a leader. Making the switch has been a challenge for me, but if it’s not challenging it’s probably not worth doing.

Dena Herbolich is the National Practice Leader for Moss Adams’ Professional Services Practice and serves on the firm’s Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Board. She is an executive sponsor for our LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group.