Moore Together: Training and Resources for Emerging Leaders

Moore-Together-Graphic.jpgMoore Stephens North America is comprised of 40 member firms that provide key services across a wide variety of industries and niches. This month’s “Moore Together” is a collaboration between Kristen Clark, partner with The Bonadio Group, Allyson Roote, Director of Learning and Organizational Development with The Bonadio Group, and Anouck Plante, communications and marketing administrator with Demers Beaulne.
Being a leader is a privilege, not a right. Leadership skills don’t “kick in” at a certain stage of your career, just as promotions come about from experience, not age or tenure. Training to be a leader is just as important as learning the technical skills that come with being an accountant or advisor. Even though these “soft skills” are often overlooked, emerging leaders of today are seeking out educational resources that will help them grow beyond the billable.

Leadership programs, similar to the MSNA Leadership Growth Academy, bring the training and resources to these leaders while giving them a valuable network of individuals at similar points in their career. While firms across North America have started procuring programs like this to attract potential leaders and nurture those already in place, two MSNA firms have already begun tending to their executives in training.

Montreal-based Demers Beaulne launched their Young Leaders Club in February 2017 to bring together young professionals from different services to focus on business development.

“Business development is regularly perceived as a ‘partners only’ activity and may often seem overwhelming to young professionals,” said one of the co-founders. “The reality is that creating your own network takes time. Business development doesn’t mean attending a few happy hours…it’s about creating relationships, building confidence and sharing expertise.”

The Club was developed by four young leaders looking for a resource to discuss and share best practices, provide motivation, and learn and develop skills related to business development. The arrival of a new business development partner was the missing link that helped the group become a reality.

“Initiation into the world of business development cannot be left to a few months before obtaining a promotion,” said Anouck Plante, communications & marketing administrator at Demers Beaulne. “It involves getting familiar with such practices and finding your comfort zone.”

In addition to attending conferences on business development and sales skills, the firm offers mentorship from their partners, Lunch & Learn opportunities between different services, and internal mentorship among group members.

“For my part, I find it very motivating to discuss business development with young professionals of my age who wish to develop into important players in the business world,” said one program participant. “It allows us to meet inspiring people from diverse backgrounds, to know our colleagues from different services, and develop new skills.”

The process to join the Club helps ensure active participation and commitment. Potential members are required to fill out a form explaining who they are and why they wish to join the Club and the leaders will insure members get involved. The four founders draw up a plan each year with members’ objectives and requests, arranging a calendar with meetings and activities.

“Our Young Leaders Club is a real asset to our staff,” the Lead Audit Partner at Demers Beaulne said. “For our firm, it generates great lasting benefits by increasing our visibility and notoriety and creating a professional partner ecosystem from various services (i.e. lawyers, bankers, etc.). It also stimulates a sense of belonging and most of all, helps build a strong team!”
While Demers Beaulne’s Young Leaders Club found its niche in business development, other firms are looking for broader solutions to meet the needs of their emerging leaders.

The Bonadio Group began developing the “Bonadio Leadership University” (BLU) in 2005 to satisfy a critical strategic focus area of the firm, in addition to addressing the need to increase recruiting and retention efforts.

“The program was a vehicle for bringing together future leaders of the firm from all our various offices and divisions, and to provide them insight into how the firm operates as a whole, not just their own office or team,” said Kristen Clark, partner at The Bonadio Group.

Since its inception, the program has been continuously improving, addressing such issues as “ownership” of the group, development of the content and selecting key participants. After outsourcing the entire program for a time, a full-time Director of Learning and Organizational Development was hired to help develop “Bonadio University.”

“I’m sure it may seem like we have had our share of ‘challenges’ to arrive at where we are now,” said Director of Learning and Organizational Development, Allyson Roote. “However, I truly believe we needed to go through what we did to learn how best to approach the leadership development investment and to really focus on what we need for the firm we now are.”

Rolled out annually, individuals must apply to be in the program by submitting a written application, a one-minute video on why they should be selected and a letter of recommendation from their performance coach. Applications are reviewed by members of the Bonadio University Council based on strength of overall application, demonstrated leadership potential, commitment to personal growth and commitment to maximizing learning to lead Bonadio into the future.

Those selected are then grouped into three cohorts: emerging, developing or advanced leaders. The complexity of the leadership topics increases with each level, providing additional opportunities to grow within the program.

“The program was very impactful because as a senior we are starting to take on more of a leadership role, and this program helped determine what kind of leader we will be and how to be successful,” said one program participant, a graduate of the 2017 class.

This program, and many programs like it, does not wait to provide leadership opportunities only to partners. By focusing on high-potential employees at the senior, manager and principal levels, they grow their bench strength and support the growing needs of the firm from a leadership perspective.

While Bonadio University and the Young Leaders Club differ in their execution, they both acknowledge the growing need for nurturing and training emerging leaders. Whether increasing retention rates or ensuring the future of your firm, there is plenty to be lost by ignoring “soft skills” instead of embracing the next generation.

To learn more about leadership development programs offered through MSNA firms, please contact Kristen Clark or Allyson Roote with The Bonadio Group or Anouck Plante with Demers Beaulne.

We’re great alone, but we’re “Moore Together!” If you would like to collaborate with other members, or if you have a topic you would like to address, please contact Laura Ponath.