Leaders, quite rightly are the heroes of business. They motivate us to go to places and do things that we otherwise would never consider or believe possible. They change industries, organisations and produce memorable work.
In any business climate, good leadership is the most important competitive advantage an accounting practice can have. In our attempt to master the skills of being seen as a leader, we lose sight of the two attributes of the leadership equation. For leaders to lead they need to not only have the ability to attract followers, but also be seen as having exceptional talent.
When these two key skills cross over, the leader is seen as an authority.
Leaders aren’t focused on trying to maintain the status quo, they are focused on doing what must be done to ensure growth and profitability in the future, which is not always an easy road to take.
To become an authority you need to purposefully make it happen. This “title” doesn’t land in your lap, but there are a few things you can do to make sure that you achieve the authority status.
Whilst we have spoken about where to find your audience and what to say when you find them, the key to being an authority is knowing what you are talking about and being able to express it well.
In The Land Of The Blind The One Eye Man Is King
If you want to lead and be seen as the authority you may think you have to be the best in the world. But this is not true, you just need to be the best in your world. You do not have to be the entire planets foremost authority on your topic, you just need to be the authority to your ideal audience, and be found hanging out where they are hanging out.
If you are the authority where your ideal audience is, you are the authority.
And what about the people who are the world authority on a subject? Well these people are your coaches and mentors. They are the people you learn from.
Make Complicated, Easy
Whilst being the world’s authority may not be possible (although not unattainable, I would love for you to think big) you can be the most accessible authority.
The accounting profession is full of jargon, acronyms and complicated formulas. You can lead from the front by making the information accessible to people who are not accountants. You can take something hard and make it easy.
Take boring articles and turn them into audios and videos. Take complicated tables and turn them into metaphors. Take learnings from your exams and turn them into insights and examples using well known figures and companies.
A great example I like to refer to is Jean-Christophe Novelli vs Keith Floyd. In my past life as an Event Director I ran The Restaurant Show in London. In its heyday Jean-Christophe Novelli was the celebrity chef everyone was talking about. I loved his TV programmes and his cooking demonstrations… moreover I loved his restaurant. Because I enjoyed his food so much I decided to buy one of his cookery books. In his book “Your place or mine” were a number of recipes for me to enjoy making.
Could I make them? Nope.
They were so complicated. He was a leader, an authority on French cuisine… but his food was not accessible. Conversely one of the earliest and most famous celebrity chefs is Keith Floyd. Still today his programmes are shown online sharing his travels around the world, cooking fish and meat dishes and drinking wine faster than the French could make it. Interestingly, I never bought a cookery book of Floyds, and here is why… I could watch his cooking demonstrations, see that there was a maximum of about 5 ingredients (of which butter and wine were two) and have a go at making it myself.
Floyd made the complicated inspiring and easy. He gave us ways to enjoy dishes from around the world in our own home. Conversely Jean-Christophe Novelli was so complicated with his cooking and recipes that although we had the step by step instructions on how to create a dish, it just wasn’t easy to understand.
This is why you need be more Keith Floyd and not Jean-Christophe Novelli. You want to make it easy, fun and entertaining for your audience. There is a lot to be learnt from how these two celebrity chefs approached being an authority.
The More You Teach the More You Learn
One of the current buzz phrases around the profession is “Trusted Advisor” yet there is much fear around this term when it comes to stepping into this role. However there is no better way to become a master of something, than to teach it.
To start with you teach the basics to those who know nothing on the subject. It doesn’t matter how many people are doing it before you, if you do it well with your personality injected into it, you will find businesses and students that want to learn from you.
As you teach, the basics will start to gain more depth and you will start to have your own insights, and understanding of topics that once were not there for you. As you keep learning you will be able to teach more in-depth and rich content.
Before you know it you will be the authority that we speak of.
You can read books, listen to podcasts and take exams. But until you start teaching what you have learnt you will not be seen as the authority. Be honest about your skill set and you will find the right students for you.
It’s Not About You
Your goal with being a leader and becoming the authority is not for your ego. It is to help your readers and your clients. Every time you are fearful about sharing an insight or content online, that is your ego kicking in because you are making it about you.
Know-it-alls have a tough time because they are constantly blowing their own trumpet. When you try to position yourself as the smartest guy in the room people don’t like it.
On the other hand, when you approach your subject with expertise, modesty and a sincere desire to help, you will find raving fans, evangelists and people who have got your back when someone wants to take a pop at you.
By knowing it’s not about you, and coming from a place of helping, you will build trust and be seen as a leading authority.
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