creating a standout, high-performing organization
the new handbook for adapting to change, seizing new opportunities, and driving success.
by anthony zecca
with forewords by dom esposito and phil whitman
- see how “edge leaders” drive performance with courage, commitment, and accountability.
- learn how to move from a compliance mindset to a client-centric advisory, value-based mindset.
- required reading for new, aspiring, and all forward-thinking leaders.
- applicable to firms of all sizes and all stages of growth.
- 200 pages of step-by-step procedures, checklists, exhibits, case studies, first-person accounts, interviews, and examples.
- formatted as a coil-bound, lay-flat workbook, so you get to work immediately.
plus – bonus downloadable eight-piece toolkit at no additional charge
(zip file with eight practice aids in pdf and customizable word, excel, and powerpoint files.)
instant downloads:look for the links in your order confirmation from “email@example.com” and before the table of contents in your book or ebook.
high-value advice on strategy, leadership, and growth
“leading from the edge” reveals how to:
create a culture of excellence.
assemble a standout team throughout the entire firm, where everyone can flourish and grow in their skills and career.
build a client-centric organization.
learn how to be market-intelligent about clients’ current and future wants and needs.
instill a culture of empowerment, coupled with accountability.
inspire everyone to live the vision, mission, and core values of the firm.
maintain everyone’s focus on the future vision of the firm and the strategic plan to achieve that vision.
ensure that the entire leadership team is always confidently courageous and leading from the edge.
advance praise from top cpa firm leaders
“tony knows volumesabout building a top-tier accounting and advisory firm. he’s a tremendous resource for taking the good and making it great”
– kevin j. keane, managing partner, pkf o’connor davies
“tony captures the fundamental challengesfacing firm leaders and provides practical insights on how to move from talk to results.”
– kevin o’connell, managing partner, mgo cpas
“tony has written a highly accessible bookwith practical and proven insights on strategies for high-performing firms. now more than ever, his advice is critical for firm leaders.”
– stephen j. feron, cpa, mba, managing partner, johnson o’connor feron & carucci cpas
“packed with ideas and best practicesfor leaders in a cpa firm, i particularly enjoyed section v where tony addresses what it takes to move from talk to results. it is insightful and demonstrates the breadth of tony’s consulting skills, insights, and experience. a must-read for anyone in a leadership role.”
– dom esposito, ceo of espositoceo2ceo, retired coo of cohnreznick cpas
“loved the book… so on-point. i hope that at least 80% of the partners in the profession read this!”
– lou grassi, ceo and managing partner, grassi cpas
“any cpa firm or practice leaderwho wants to improve their effectiveness – and the performance of their firm or practice area– would be wise to read this book”
– dave hartley, partner and advisory practice leader, anders llc
table of contents
21 chapters, 3 appendices, 8-piece toolkit
insights and guidance on every page
section i – leading from the edge
- leadership & culture
- what edge leadership looks like
- key leadership challenges
- is your leadership at the edge?
- managing versus leading
section ii – assessing your firm today
- leadership today
- assessing your leadership team
- assessing your own leadership
- assessing your firm
section iii – becoming a standout high-performing firm
- the roadmap
- principle #1: building a standout team
- principle #2: becoming client-centric
- principle #3: becoming market intelligent
- principle #4: technology
- principle #5: becoming confidently courageous
section iv – creating & living a shared vision
- creating your
- mission and
- core values
section v – moving from talk to results™
- driving change
- getting to results
- empowerment & accountability
section vi – putting it all together
- being an edge leader
creating a standout, high-performing firm: a model transformation project plan
how to use this handbook to coach future leaders
how to make your next partner retreat impactful
plus: downloadable eight-piece toolkit
(zip file with eight practice aids in pdf and customizable word, excel, and powerpoint files.)
- edge leadership business development action plan worksheetwith 2 tabs (.xlsx)
- edge leadership sample employee survey(.pdf)
- edge leadership upward assessment(see chapter 7) (.docx)
- edge leadership team member self assessment(see chapter 7) (.docx)
- edge leadership self assessment alternative(see chapter 8) (.docx)
- edge leadership self assessment(see chapter 8) (.docx)
- edge leadership project planning and control – task report – illustration(for appendix 1) (.pdf)
- edge power draft transformation mapping(for appendix 3) (.pptx)
instant downloads:look for the links in your order confirmation from “firstname.lastname@example.org” and before the table of contents in your book or pdf ebook.
– zip file with eight practice aids in pdf and customizable word docs, excel workbooks, and powerpoints, included with purchase at no additional charge.
– all files downloadable to five devices within 30 days of purchase.
– all material copyright of the author and prohibited from unauthorized reproduction, storage, or distribution under penalty of law.
make a commitment to excellence
the road to creating a standout, high-performing firm.
by anthony zecca
from the author’s introduction
every firm, every firm leader, every partner, and every team member can stand out and be a top performer. it’s a choice and a commitment to excel.
this book is about leadership. it’s about the type of leadership necessary to drive an organization to become a standout, high-performing organization. although many of the principles throughout are applicable to any middle-market organization, i have focused on professional service firms and within that, accounting firms where i spent my entire career.
the roadmap to improve your leadership and your firm
in this book, i share the insights gained over my career as a leader in various capacities, my experience in providing strategy and consulting to leaders in numerous industries, and finally, the insights i gained through interviewing 11 current managing partners of successful accounting firms, ranging in revenue from $11 million to $175 million a year.
my hope is that through the filter of my own experience, my experience with leaders of companies, and the thinking of current leaders of accounting firms, this book will provide a roadmap to improve your leadership and your firm’s performance.
leadership was and is the one critical factor that separates standout organizations from the ones that struggle to improve.
leadership was and is what drives performance – and that is the central theme of this book. the issue or question is what type of leadership achieves standout performance since there is a spectrum of leadership that goes from poor to average (center) and in a small percentage of organizations to “the edge” (i.e. standout, high performance). this book is about leading from the edge.
tons of books have already been written about leadership – so why this book? leadership in professional service firms, particularly accounting firms, presents unique leadership challenges, reflecting the divergence in size, services performed, governance structures, markets in which they operate, and an ownership structure that often finds it difficult to separate ownership from management.
the mindset to move from compliance to advisory
accounting firms are facing significant headwinds driven by changes in what clients expect, want, and need from their accounting firm and the challenges that presents in moving from a compliance mindset to an advisory, value-based mindset.
leaders in accounting firms must show the way and lead the change from the historical compliance-based firm to a firm that creates value for its clients – leaders must move from the center to the edge.
great leaders “lead from the edge” – they are constantly motivating each member of their team to reach and achieve ever-higher levels of performance – expanding out their personal “edge.” edge leaders are constantly testing the edges, knowing that their team and the firm are always capable of more.
what sets edge leaders apart from most leaders in professional service firms is that they face and win the challenge every day to create that “more” in a motivating, inspiring environment. the “edge” for great leaders is not a static place, but an evolving, ever-moving edge.
it starts with culture
“leading from the edge” is a cultural model that starts at the top and permeates the entire leadership team and firm. the “edge” is not the same for every leader, but it is an aspirational model that reflects the best of what leadership is – a level of leadership that every leader or aspiring leader should strive to achieve.
great edge leaders adjust their leadership style to fit the situations they are facing. they understand that sometimes you have to push, sometimes pull, and sometimes walk alongside their team to drive performance. edge leaders understand that a one-style-fits-all approach to leadership just does not work and they have to adjust their leadership approach to the personality of the people they are leading.
great edge leaders understand that their team is diverse in many ways and the approach to leading a strong performer is not the same as leading others who are growing in their performance skills.
throughout this handbook, we focus on what edge leaders look like and how they lead their firms as well as compare and contrast with center leaders – leaders of firms that are more complacent and unable or unwilling to drive their firms to the level of a standout, high-performing firm.
it’s driven by courage and commitment
what distinguishes edge leaders from center leaders is the edge leader’s courage and commitment to create a vision and culture to drive their firm to the front of the pack. the edge leader understands the importance of empathy in driving everyone’s performance.
the focus and ability to overcome challenges, anticipated or not, such as the current challenge presented by covid-19, and always remaining true to the vision and culture necessary to become a standout, high-performing firm represent the hallmark of an edge leader.
edge leaders understand that creating a sustainable standout, high-performing firm can only be achieved by:
- creating a culture of excellence
- building a standout team throughout the entire firm whereby every person in the firm can flourish and grow in their skills and career
- building an organization that is client-centric
- being market-intelligent regarding client current and future wants and needs
- instilling a culture of empowerment coupled with accountability
- inspiring everyone to live the vision, mission, and core values of the firm
- maintaining everyone’s focus on the future vision of the firm and the strategic plan to achieve that vision, and finally,
- ensuring that the entire leadership team is always confidently courageous and leading from the edge
edge leaders constantly look down the road to understand what their current and future clients will need, what challenges their clients will be facing, and ensuring that the firm is ready to help clients meet those challenges.
edge leaders have a constant pulse on the future regarding firm-related challenges and opportunities, thus ensuring that the firm is ready, willing, and able to overcome each challenge and maximize each opportunity.
edge leaders communicate that their purpose as a firm is not to maximize revenue and profit but to make a difference in the lives of its employees, its clients, and the greater community it serves.
it’s for every leader in any size firm
edge leaders understand that growth and profit result from driving the execution of the firm’s vision, mission, core values, and strategy through teamwork, empowerment, accountability, and a constant focus on adding value with every client interaction – making a difference.
if you are the leader in a professional services organization, a practice leader within a firm – or an aspiring leader in any organization for that matter – you can drive your organization and your team to the level of a standout, high-performing team.
the size of your firm does not matter. if your firm has revenue of $2 million or $250 million, the road to creating a standout, high-performing firm, as well as the evolution of your leadership from where you are today to the edge, is the same.
the five-point p.o.w.e.r. model
how to “walk the talk” and move an accounting firm forward.
by dom esposito
ceo, esposito ceo2ceo llc
author of “8 steps to great”
from his foreword
what i find very interesting about many leaders of small and mid-sized accounting firms, is that they would rather work on client matters than on their firm matters. if this void in leadership happens year after year, these firms begin to flounder, lose talent and key clients, and eventually merge up, break up, or liquidate.
while accounting firms offer a wide range of business advice to their clients, when it comes to leading their own firms it is a little bit like the “shoemaker’s shoes” – their senior people don’t take their own advice, or even worse, they truly need help in understanding what it takes to lead.
tony gets it. he has been there and done that.
tony zecca, with his 40-plus years of leadership experience at cohnreznick and his work counseling many leaders through his wide and deep consulting experience, understands how to “walk the talk” and move an accounting firm, no matter if it is a small firm doing $2 million annually or if it is a relatively large firm doing $150 million, from “talk to results.”™ simply stated. tony is a pro helping many firms. his book is an opportunity for you to get a glimpse of his insights and experiences.
moving into a new era, to accelerate growth, accounting firm leaders will continue to experience a paradigm shift within their firms – shifting from a traditional accounting firm model to a professional services firm model. a key focus in this shift will be the addition of a full suite of advisory services that generally have higher margins than compliance work.
he understands what it takes to lead an accounting firm today. it’s all about talent and clients. tony has been gracious in sharing his wisdom and experiences in this book. he challenges senior partners to make a candid and honest assessment of their firms and how to pivot into a stand-out high-performing firm with a shared vision. he lays out the p.o.w.e.r. model that focuses on the five absolutes for any substantive change to actually get implemented successfully.
it is a model that drives change:
pis for purpose
ois for ownership
wis for willingness
eis for environment
ris for resolve
tony’s model is very insightful, and i can attest that it works. give this book a read. i’m sure that you will be glad that you did.
the seven key filters for assessing potential
leaders need to lead and not manage.
by philip j. whitman, cpa
ceo and president
whitman business advisors, llc
from his foreword
tony’s demeanor, charisma, and professional life story of his role as a leader in one of the top cpa firms in north america are enviable. tony built a tremendous consulting organization within a cpa firm long before the time every leader started echoing the need for advisory services.
tony gives you, the future “edge leader,” a roadmap, a step-by-step list of exactly what you need to do.
far too many managing partners spend their time managing their partner group which is very different than leading them. many managing partners view themselves as highly paid “baby-sitters” following up on the myriad of administrative requests.
tony’s discussion ofthe seven key filters for assessment of the firmhits the heart of the matter.
the assessment exercise establishes a baseline and a basis for areas requiring your focus:
- client service
- business development and marketing
now, i am not saying it will be easy, but with the help of tony’s insights and life experience, you will get many steps closer to being a high-performing, standout organization.
as a profession in transition, it is imperative that current and aspirational cpa firm leaders, whether sole owners or top 10 cpa firms haveleading from the edge: creating a standout, high-performing organizationon their required reading list.
learn from the best in the business
with insights from top-rated cpa firm leaders
in addition to his own knowledge and experience, author anthony zecca taps into the expertise of some of the leaders of the profession’s most dynamic cpa firms.
about the author:anthony zecca
anthony zecca,founder, and ceo of growth path partners llc,is a veteran cpa and management consultant who focuses on growth strategies and leadership.
zecca’s understanding of leadership was honed both by his career as a partner in a cpa firm as well as his work as a consultant with hundreds of leaders across numerous industries.
“leading from the edge” reflects zecca’s belief in what makes a successful leader. it challenges every leader, in any capacity, to have the courage to step out of what he calls “center leadership” to become an impactful “edge leader” who can move their organization to the level of a standout, high-performance firm.
his career began at j. h. cohn & company – a small $5 million firm in new jersey where his first exposure to leadership was gained. zecca earned his cpa credentials early in his career and was promoted to partner in 12 years. his successful career as an audit partner provided him with the opportunity to work with a number of large clients of the firm.
zecca’s interest in how businesses worked, what made good ones good and bad ones bad resulted in a career move from audit to management consulting. as a partner in the small consulting team at j. h. cohn, he led a number of consulting projects for small to middle-market companies.
he used his work with ceos of these companies as a “leadership laboratory” where he took the time to probe and observe so many different leaders and began to develop a deep understanding of what made great leaders great and their impact on how their companies performed.
zecca served on the firm’s management committee and was part of the leadership team at j. h. cohn as the firm grew from a small firm to a $250-milion firm and one of the top 20 firms among the top 100 firms.
he became the managing partner of the firm’s consulting division in 2001 when consulting revenue was less than $2 million with a team of five. when he retired from the firm at the end of 2015, the consulting division had revenue of about $70 million with 24 partners and close to 300 staff.50% of that growth was from the firm merger with reznick in 2013.
zecca has consulted for hundreds of organizations, interacting with leaders in family companies as well as publicly traded and large not-for-profit organizations.
through his long career working with leaders and being active in the leadership of his firm, his concepts regarding leadership were developed and shared in this second book. in addition, zecca was co-author of the book “the performance power grid,” published in 2000, focusing on “business intelligence” – one of the first on the topic.
anthony has presented at conferences and client company retreats numerous times on strategy, growth, and leadership. he has written numerous articles on these subjects and is recognized for his excellent presentation and facilitation skills. he has been involved in various charitable organizations, including being one of the founding members of themedhen orphan relief effort,an organization that supplies financial support to an orphanage in ethiopia. in addition, he has been on various boards, including his hometown board of education, where he was elected president for eight of the 12 years he served.
most recently, his consulting work has been with a number of accounting firms and other professional service firms providing high-value advice on strategy, leadership, and growth.
he can be reached onlinkedin.
follow anthony zecca’s weekly columns at卡塔尔世界杯常规比赛时间 here.
leading from the edge – new! growth handbook with bonus toolkit
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