the art of leadership, lesson one: strategy

the “best” isn’t enough. “unique” is the secret ingredient.

in his new book, “leading from the edge – creating a standout, high-performing organization,” anthony zecca focuses on the type of leadership that accounting firms need to succeed in a future driven by seismic disruptors. this is the first in a series of articles that will focus on key aspects of “edge leadership” and the challenges most accounting firm leaders (all leaders for that matter) are facing today. the next article will focus on “the art of leadership – empowerment”. empowerment without accountability is like making ice without water – can’t be done.

by anthony zecca
leading from the edge

strategy: so much has been written about it and how to create it. harvard’s michael porter famously said strategy is best based on being unique, and not being the best.

more on the edge leader:is your team climbing the right wall?|how to build a standout team|competing for talent in a private-equity world|five keys to becoming a high-performing firm|assessing your firm|the 4 traits of great cpa leaders|why leaders must ensure clarity|incremental vs. exceptional success|do you lead or just manage?|managing vs. leading|is your leadership team at the edge?|6 leadership challenges through covid and beyond|edge leaders share 7 strengths|leadership must drive culture|leading from the edge
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sounds crazy but the following quote (slightly modified) is what i think aligns with how an edge leader will think about strategy:

“strategy starts with thinking the right way about competition. many managers (leaders) compete to be “the best”—but this is a dangerous mindset that leads to a destructive, zero-sum competition that no one can win. competing to be unique, on the other hand, is the basis of a sound business strategy…”

how many firms go through the annual ritual of budgeting and partner retreats that in the end, at best, create some tactics that might improve the firm’s results incrementally? how many leaders at these firm retreats focus on tactics versus strategy? how many leaders think that developing long-term strategies (3 to 5 years) is unproductive given the challenge of thinking about the future so far down the road? finally, how many leaders, when strategy is discussed, focus on being the best versus being unique?