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Helping Effective Leaders Emerge in Accounting Firms

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One of the most important moves the best leaders can make is unlocking the leadership potential of those they lead.

Its rewards are immense, too.  

Bacchus Advisory was about to hire a second offshore accountant in 2022 when its leaders decided to try the Emerging Leaders program. Their participant? Charene Soria, a Certified Public Accountant who had worked offshore for them for a little over a year. 

“By then, I had worked quite closely with Charene for more than a year,” says Lisa Maletta, Associate Director at Bacchus Advisory, a 10-year-old firm in Sydney that provides their clients customised accounting, tax and strategic business advice.   

“In her technical skills, she was getting quite up there. So, it was just about then learning the soft skills to take on that additional person, which for us was amazing.”  

Lisa believed that supervising their new team member in the Philippines would be the natural progression in Charene’s career. 

Charene had joined Bacchus Advisory three years ago and was the first offshore accountant that the firm had hired with TOA Global, a leading global talent solutions provider for the accounting industry. (This June, eight of the firm’s 17 accountants will be offshore.) 

The Emerging Leaders program helped boost Charene’s confidence, “especially when communicating with other people and giving feedback. I used all the strategies and tips I’ve learnt from the program and have become more at ease with other people around me.” 

Developing potential leaders is critical as firms scale. Accountants who are serious about offering higher-value services need the support of emerging leaders, so they can free the time and energy to work on those new services.

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Why you lead the way you do

For the firm’s leaders, deciding to invest in emerging leaders also shows they recognise that they can’t do everything themselves.  

Whether they opt for online accounting courses or organise face-to-face training, leaders need to help competent individual contributors prepare for roles in management and leadership.

When they get this right, they amplify their team’s ability to execute their strategies and plans. And they also gain valuable buy-in from team members who value opportunities for career development and growth.

TOA Global Clark & Manila Emerging Leaders 2023

For Charene, one of the highlights of the Emerging Leaders Course was the effective communication module. She credits it with enabling her to build stronger relationships with other team members.

“Since she did Emerging Leaders, Charene has been able to take on more staff and more management responsibilities for me, which is great,” says Lisa.

“Our team in the Philippines go to Charene to ask questions and seek help, and this has helped everyone at the firm.”

Emerging Leaders takes place across seven weeks, with participants meeting virtually for two hours each week. Participants who complete it:

  • Understand what has shaped them as leaders. 
  • Gain proven frameworks for delivering feedback effectively. 
  • Become leaders who keep teams engaged and inspired. 
  • Coach like pros with the right frameworks, techniques and guides. 
  • Pick up time management and action planning strategies. 
  • Grasp and apply the five elements that make a high-performing team.

Inspiring your team to stay

Charene particularly enjoyed the fact that participants did more than sit and listen to the presentations. “After every session, there was always a simulation where we could apply everything that we’ve learnt, not just within ourselves but also with our peers in the program.”

That was by design. “You can go to an amazing program and think, ‘Yes, that was great.’ And then within a week, you don’t do anything with it,” says Thomas Sutton, TOA Global’s Principal Learning and Development Consultant, who teaches the Emerging Leaders program.

“It’s good to hear that participants collaborated and used their experiences with other emerging leaders who work in the same industry.”

An added benefit for firms is that, by investing in this program, they show that they value professional development, which will encourage team members to stay and grow with the firm. True leaders build up other leaders.

“For any leader who wants to build their team, Emerging Leaders is a great starting point. I also think it’s a part of retention now, where I’ve got team members here (in Australia) who are asking to do it because they’ve heard great things about it,” Lisa says.

Unlock your team's leadership gifts

She also points to the importance of providing one-on-one training, which she had the opportunity to do when she visited her team in the Philippines.

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How a firm develops its team members can dramatically improve the experiences a firm creates for its clients. A core part of the program is the essentials of coaching: what it is, what techniques to use, and what frameworks to apply.

Emerging Leaders won a Diamond Award in the Best Learning and Talent Development (Leadership Training) category of the Learn X Awards in 2022.

This year, it will run four times, with cohorts for TOA Global client onshore or offshore teams.