Time to ‘turn over a new leaf’ as we are approaching the end of 2021. Only a few of us know that the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions dates back to 153 B.C. and a mythological king of ancient Rome, Janus (the month January takes after his name!). Janus had two faces, one facing ahead and the other back. This enabled him to reflect on the past while also looking forward to the future.
The Romans imagined Janus looking backward into the previous year and onward into the new year on December 31. This became a symbolic moment for Romans to establish new year’s goals and forgive adversaries for past wrongs. And thus was created the New Year’s resolution!
2000 years later, the core of the tradition remains and with every year passing, we get to reflect and rethink our next steps. When it comes to your tax career and leadership style, the end of year review will freshen up your vision and act as a catalyst for innovative next steps through the resolutions you put in place.
Based on what we’ve seen in 2021 and our experience in working with tax leaders looking into accelerating their careers, here are four behaviours for New Year (re)solutions you can introduce in 2022 to help you lead innovatively, ethically and authentically:
Be more assertive.
Based on my discussions with senior tax professionals who move up in ranks quickly, if I had to pick one talent that I noticed in all of them is their assertiveness. Not because assertiveness is such a great quality in and of itself. Rather, because of its ability to accentuate a wide range of other leadership qualities. Balance is the foundation of assertiveness. It necessitates being straightforward about your demands and needs but also taking into account the rights, needs, and wants of others. When you’re assertive, you’re confident in yourself and use that confidence to make your point strongly, fairly, and with empathy. On top of it, assertiveness is great from a mental health standpoint – communicating assertively may help you reduce conflict, control anger, and have more meaningful connections with friends, family, and others.
Assertiveness is actually a bridge-maker. Balancing this important talent with your other leadership abilities considerably increases your power and influence. Leaders who grow to be more assertive will have the guts to speak out or push back when necessary to best deliver for their teams. In fact, in 2021, with the ‘Great Resignation’ movement, many tax professionals that I worked with decided to move on because their leaders were not really covering for their teams. Practicing assertiveness not only gets you there on your own, but also caters for your team’s success too.
Establish digital technology objectives for yourself and your team.
‘Move Fast and Break Things’ has been Facebook’s internal slogan for some time and feel it embodies perfectly the mindset behind a highly competitive and innovative environment. To be on top of the current digital technology demand that drives innovation, whether it is you or your team, you need to perform the following audit:
- Seek growth avenues by understanding how Tax work is constantly evolving, reviewing data management technologies, robotic process automation (RPA) and the external suppliers you work with regarding technology platforms
- Assess current capabilities of your tax practice and identify tech-related skill shortage
- Source, design and produce training content that allows you to distinguish and then become credentialed on tax analytics methods to increase strategic value
- Invest, introduce and redefine processes utilising technology automation based on the upskilling of your team’s technological capabilities
It is a well-known fact that the best leaders are always learning. So besides designing the strategy for your team, also have a think of what’s for you to learn and experiment next year when it comes to technology & co..
Lead change by becoming a Neurodiversity Champion in your practice.
The last few years saw a gradual integration of Diversity & Inclusion policies that are now essential in the way we understand workforce and organisational cultures. With the pandemic bringing us together, a new style of leadership emerged with a strong human-centred element where more attention than ever is given to employees’ wellbeing. Neurodiversity became one of the core pillars of human-centred leadership. Neurodiversity encapsulates variations in brain function and behavioural traits regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood that empower one with alternative thinking styles (e.g.: dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD, dyspraxia).
Innovation, new ways of doing things, creative problem-solving, thinking outside the box – all these require varied thinking styles. A neurodiverse team has a competitive advantage over traditional teams through unique strengths – from data-driven thinking to sustained focus over long periods and an ability to spot patterns – valuable skills that are indeed actively sought after within tax. So next time when you are recruiting or promoting, review your current policies and talent strategy to actually pay attention and fully acknowledge people’s strengths above the ticking of traditional skillsets boxes.
Break conformity when it comes to your personal branding online and offline.
Conformity is the enemy of innovation and evolution. Your brand is made up of a unique combination of accomplishments, talents, ideals, and behaviours that distinguish you from other tax experts in your field. Your leadership brand expresses your individuality and mirrors your reputation as a leader. For those considering career acceleration prospects, I would like to add that many of my clients, professional services firms, now use technology like LinkedIn and do a thorough online due diligence when it comes to the profiles I am sharing with them.
Whenever I am talking to senior tax professionals in the process of making a career move, I assist them with a series of personal branding coaching sessions. Having a strong personal brand, both online and offline, is such a simple and powerful tool that will immediately impact the process of accelerating your career. First thing on your to-do list when it comes to strengthening your brand? Think about your aspirations and what you are capable of giving to the communities you serve – both within and outside of the workplace. That’s the beginning of the never-ending journey of building and refining your personal brand.
Sticking to your New Year Resolutions
The greatest method to achieve your objectives for 2022 is to be realistic, detailed, and open about your intentions with yourself and with your team. Implementation of resolutions translates into being clear on the details of goal pursuit, such as the place, the time, and the instructions on how to perform the action.
- You won’t lose confidence if the steps required to make it happen are realistic.
- You can estimate outcomes if goals are precise and measurable.
- If they’re made public, they’re more than just desires; they’re pledges, and people may hold you to them.
Above all, search for ways to appreciate every victory, no matter how small, in 2022. 🙂
The team at Mason Rak is here to support you in your tax leadership endeavours next year. Get in touch if you are looking to build your tax practice or thinking about making a career move yourself.
Mason Rak is a global specialist tax search firm, who operate extensively across all key global markets. The firm executes some of the most challenging strategic tax search assignments and acts as a trusted advisor to accountancy and law firms around the world. If you would like to learn more about the global market and strategic leadership opportunities, please contact the author.
+44 786 911 3281