Is your need for perfection slowing your firm’s progress?

Leadership Lessons – Why your quest for perfection in accountancy could be slowing you down.

We’ve worked with all kinds of firms of accountants in our years and years of experience at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd and all kinds of leaders and hiring managers. And if there’s one kind of leadership personality trait that can cause a recruitment project to slow down when it really matters, it’s a perfectionist.

Wait? You’re saying that striving for the very best is a problem?

We know, we know! It’s a bold statement to make and it’s one that we need to take a little more time to explain. We’re absolutely not saying that aspiring to create the very best service on the market is a bad thing. We’re not saying that attention to detail is unhelpful. In fact, our founder Garry Howling is an ex military man and if he catches us saying that our house shouldn’t be absolutely ship shape we’ll be in trouble, guaranteed!

But in this article which forms a part of our Leadership Lessons series, we want to explore the importance of decision making and delegation when it comes to ensuring progress in practice. We want to consider the moments when making a slightly less than perfect decision is better than making no decision at all.

Let’s start with a disclaimer: we’re talking about high level leadership here.

We’re not suggesting for a minute that you should be releasing sets of company accounts that are not perfect. That would be career suicide, obviously!

But we have come up with a list of 5 reasons why perfectionism can be a problem for leaders in practice.

1. You’ll struggle to take a risk. 

And if you struggle with risk you’ll be likely to stifle the growth of your team and your firm. No winning leader gets every decision right. That’s how they learn, that’s how their businesses evolve; by dipping their toes into different pools of water and seeing which one feels right.

It’s imperative to always consider the benefits and risks of proceeding before you reach perfection with a project, but progress is key to your firm’s success so don’t let tiny flaws in your offering stand in its way.

2. Your work will be late.

If your team is producing some great ideas about how your firm can flourish or stand out from the crowd and you’re constantly sending them back to refine their ideas, there’s a danger you’ll miss the boat and their creativity and output will be totally wasted.

True leaders give their staff the space and trust to learn and develop and that can sometimes involve getting things wrong and learning from their mistakes. But you can guarantee on the whole that your firm will benefit from some progress rather than none and that your staff will be more committed to your organisation if they know they are trusted and valued.

3. You’ll be motivated by a desire to be liked.

And that can be a total recipe for disaster in a leader! If your need to be liked can’t be left at the office door you’ll be in danger of making decisions that will make you popular or please others rather than what is right for the firm’s culture and growth.

4. You’ll notice higher staff turnover.

To be quite honest working for a perfectionist is no fun. Perfectionism and a need for control tend to go hand in hand and if a member of your team feels like there’s no point writing a proposal or a client newsletter as they know you’ll rewrite it yourself, they’ll find their jobs demoralising and look elsewhere.

5. Leaders delegate, perfectionists don’t!

This one is so relevant to us as recruiters. We often come across managers of small firms who are doing everything themselves. They have no organisational structure as they don’t trust others to do the job as well as they know they can. And the end result every single time: BURNOUT!

If this sounds like it could be a problem you’re experiencing as a leader then you can make the less than perfect decision to be less than perfect! We know it’s a hard concept to get your head around but we’re here on hand to help you recruit a team of almost perfect accountants who, in time, you’ll trust to bring great progress to your firm. So contact us today to set up an introductory call where we can discuss the needs of your unique practice.

And if you enjoyed this article in our Leadership Lessons series then why not take a read of some of our others:

Leadership Lessons: Get your workforce motivated. 

Leadership Lessons: Nurture Potential in Accountancy.

Leadership Lessons: Analyse a Canidate’s Personality and Create a Winning Team.


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