By AFWA National President, Linda Harris, CPA
By the time you read this, April 18th will be just days away. The past three and half months, those of us in public accounting have had to exercise our technical skills, the skills and knowledge directly related to our professional industry. Without those technical skills, we could not perform our jobs. However, I could never survive busy season if I didn’t also possess what I like to call success skills.
I can have the best technical skills but if I don’t know how to delegate assignments, manage my time, or deal with both staff and clients I won’t be able to perform my job effectively. Success skills tend to be harder to define because they are so broad. Anything that can be considered human behavior and communication is a success skill. Such as:
- Public speaking
- Effective writing
- Personal branding
- Communication styles and adapting your style based on others
- Emotional intelligence
- And MANY more like this
My “success” skills have earned me the respect of my clients and peers. These skills allow me to walk into a board room, sit at the table and have the confidence to participate in the discussion. This confidence for a strong voice in the discussion comes from working on skills like public speaking, emotional intelligence, and handling conflict.
We’re all conditioned to believe continuing education related to technical topics is most valuable. While it is important to stay up to date on our industry, it’s just as valuable, if not more so, to practice and improve our success skills. Research has shown that although employers and managers recognize the need for these kinds of skills, employers rarely provide support for their continuing development. Employers can see the relationship between knowing more about multistate tax or estate returns, but quantifying success skill return is much harder. It’s really incumbent upon us to make sure we invest in ourselves and improve these areas ourselves.
AFWA is the perfect venue to hone those skills – whether you take on a leadership role, serve on a committee, take advantage of webinars on these topics, or present at your chapter meeting. These opportunities let you spread your wings and gain confidence in areas that may be outside your comfort zone. I have told many that AFWA and my decision to get involved has contributed greatly to where I am today.