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The WSCPA will be closed Monday, May 27th in observance of Memorial Day.

Envisioning a Results Centered Future

August 23, 2022

by Sara Bailey, CPA

I am honored to be the new Chair of the WSCPA Board of Directors. If you were able to attend our Annual Meeting in June, you heard me talk about the pandemic-inspired vocabulary that I am happy to leave behind along with the last two years.

At the Annual Meeting speakers shared the challenges facing the accounting profession—shortages in our pipeline; managing a hybrid workforce; and creating progress in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession. Firms have been discussing these topics recently, and they are tough issues to face. While no one has a perfect answer to address these issues and nothing will be fixed overnight, we are all facing these things together.

The WSCPA is addressing these challenges alongside everyone else in the profession. I am really excited about embracing the opportunities we will encounter as we navigate an ever-changing business environment and increasing complexity in the profession.

I took a personal leadership class as part of my MBA curriculum a couple years ago. One of the articles I read was “Moments of Greatness: Entering the Fundamental State of Leadership” by Robert E Quinn. In this article (from the July-August 2005 issue of Harvard Business Review), Quinn discusses how to analyze what current state we are in by asking four transformative questions. One of the questions to be asked is “Am I results centered?” Quinn states that we are comfort centered most of the time. What does that mean? It means we do what is comfortable, what we know how to do, and we subconsciously avoid things that make us leave our comfort zones. This is a very normal state to be in—I think we have all felt that discomfort when we do something for the first time and want nothing more than to just go back to what we know.

As Quinn describes, when we are results centered, we force ourselves to clarify what result we want, and it moves us toward a possibility that does not exist. Quinn states we “become more proactive, intentional, optimistic, invested and persistent. We also tend to become more energized, and our impact on others becomes energizing.”

How does all of this apply to the challenges our profession is facing? We aren’t going to create real, meaningful solutions and possibilities that do not exist yet by staying in our comfort zones. We need to be uncomfortable. We need to have tough conversations. We need to be willing to take action that hasn’t been taken before. Organizations now, more than ever, are re-envisioning what the workforce of the future will look like, where they will work, how they will work, and what skills they will need to be successful. We need to be laser focused on understanding there are possibilities to solve key problems in our profession that we cannot imagine yet. And we need to get used to being uncomfortable and accepting that discomfort.

After the Annual Meeting, our Board of Directors and the WSCPA staff held our annual board retreat. The Board is proud of the work accomplished by the Society in 2017 and 2018 on the strategic plan and was thrilled the changes implemented have allowed the Society to stay relevant and quickly adjust fire in several areas to come out of the pandemic unscathed. Because of how quickly things have changed in the profession over the last two years, we know it is important for the board and staff to revisit the WSCPA’s strategic plan and assess whether any directional changes need to be made. We had our first think tank at the board retreat and will continue to work through this process over the next several months.

After reflecting on our retreat and the strategic planning sessions we had, I am so proud of the group of diverse perspectives we had in the room and how we were okay with sitting with a level of discomfort. No one shied away from the challenges our profession is addressing. And there were bold outcomes put forward. I feel honored to be a part of the WSCPA and the leadership that exists across the Society. I am impressed by the leadership skills, the experience, and more than anything—the courage to dream about what the profession will look like in the future.

We all have a part to play in creating a better future for the next generation of the profession. We are all caretakers of the profession for future CPAs. Let’s be bold in becoming results centered to get out of our comfort zones and create new possibilities for our profession.

I look forward to continuing to work closely with the entire WSCPA and staff over the next year. More than that—I have never been more excited about the opportunities we have in the future of the accounting profession.

Sara Bailey, CPA, is a partner at Moss Adams LLP and WSCPA Chair. You can contact Sara at sara.bailey@mossadams.com.

This article appears in the summer 2022 issue of the Washington CPA magazine. Read more here.