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Leading An Accounting Firm by Troy Waugh

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3Trust: The Leadership Imperative

“To thine ownself be true; … thou canst not then be false to any man.”

~ POLONIUS ADVISES HIS SON IN HAMLET BY SHAKESPEARE

What makes a great leader? In most cases, people say trustworthiness.

The CPA has long been the United States’s most trusted business adviser, but inside many of the best accounting firms, there is rampant mistrust of each other. We can attribute the mistrust to the backgrounds of the staff members who’ve lived or worked in low-trust environments, the skepticism that we teach and encourage, or the actions of people in leader roles. Trust can be selective. For example, you can trust me to accurately prepare your tax return, but you may not trust me to compensate you fairly. Trust can permeate our relationship. Mutual trust is a shared belief that you can depend on each other to achieve a common purpose. Businesses, teams, and accounting firms operate more effectively when there is a high-level of trust among all the staff members. Yet, we see a severe lack of trust across departments, generations, genders, and various levels of staff. It is the leader’s primary role to model the development of trust.

In this chapter, we will explore the hard economics, as well as the social desirability, of building trust. I’ll cover the elements of being a trustworthy person, such as integrity, intent, competence, and results. We’ll delve into building organizational trust and how to rebuild lost trust.

A culture of trust in your firm can become ...

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