Grow Your Firm

Defining Extraordinary Leadership

Gusto Editors  
Female leader standing in door way of office smiling at team

Do you want to become a more effective leader for your business and community?

Practicing extraordinary leadership skills is crucial for the success of your firm. When you successfully lead your team and clients, you’ll be able to traverse crises and build stronger relationships in the process. But how do you begin the process of becoming an extraordinary leader?

Introduce your clients to payroll they’ll actually love.

Gusto, along with our partners at CPA Academy, presented an exceptional webinar all about being an extraordinary leader titled “To Be an Extraordinary Leader in Extraordinary Times, Look Within.” You can watch the full webinar here

In addition to this webinar article, Part One, make sure to check out Part Two and Part Three to learn more about becoming an extraordinary leader. In Part Two, you’ll learn how to unleash your full leadership potential, and Part Three will teach you all about being a great leader during uncertain times. 

In this part, executive life coach and inactive CPA Amber Setter will inform you about the definition of extraordinary leadership. You’re going to find out about different leadership types, the importance of checking in with yourself, and how to lead yourself during chaotic times. 

Formal and informal leadership 

Practicing effective leadership is essential for every area of your life, including work, social life, and self-governance. Amber observed that accountants offer a unique form of leadership that involves strength and security during difficult times. 

“Extraordinary leadership isn’t just reserved for those already in these formal positions. As members of our profession, you have a unique opportunity to provide much-needed stability in these turbulent times.”

Amber Setter

For example, several accountants provided small businesses with great support and leadership by helping them with loans and advisory services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Without their guidance, several businesses would have been unsure how to navigate government relief loans and staffing decisions. 

When contemplating leadership and our individual roles as leaders, it’s crucial to recognize that leadership doesn’t come from just a formal title—it comes from our relationships and the way we influence those around us

“There can be an overemphasis on leadership as a positional title, like CEO, CFO, managing partner, president, etc. But leadership is much greater than that. All of us have the power to influence others both positively and negatively. And the possibility for influence can show up in your organization, but it also can be available to you in your family, your community, or in organizations where you give service. … By expanding your view of what leadership is, more possibility opens up for you to practice and hone extraordinary leadership behaviors.”

Amber Setter

Whether or not you’re conscious of it, you’re influencing others in your life, which means you’re practicing leadership. When you bring more awareness to how you affect others, you can improve your ability to lead and make a positive impact. 

Senior male leader sitting on bottom of stairs surrounds by other collogues smiling

There are two types of leadership—formal and informal. Formal leadership comes in the form of a position of power, such as being a politician or a CEO, and informal leadership comes in the form of influence. Although most Americans do not hold official positions of power, they  still have impact in outcomes become of their  voice and influence: 

“The formal leaders of the organization have the authority to write the new procedure and mandate that the people adopt it. But whether or not that change takes place is highly influenced by where the power of influence actually lies, which is in informal authority. It’s the power of the people. … I think that while we often defer to those who are in charge, I think there might even be more power in informal authority than in formal authority alone.”

Amber Setter 

We are all leaders in some regard, whether formal or informal leaders, so it’s important to strengthen our leadership abilities and optimize our ability to influence ourselves and others positively. 

Checking in with yourself

A crucial step you need to take to lead yourself and others effectively is to look inward and check in with yourself, especially during difficult times. 

Evaluating how you’re feeling is crucial for leading yourself and others. It’s easy to go through the motions and power through your life without checking in with how you’re feeling emotionally. To be an effective leader, you need to look inwards and acknowledge how you’re feeling and your inner reality. 

“Check in with yourself, and notice what you’re bringing to [the] space. It doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect. It means that you’re committed to being conscious, which is seeing yourself in a deeper, more meaningful way. … Just for a minute, stop to see the bigger picture. And gain a clear view of reality for yourself right now. I want you to take this moment to get to the balcony and just look down on your own life. … It’s about knowing where you’re at and being honest.”

Amber Setter 
Three male colleagues standing in office facing each other while having a conversations

Take a moment to look at your life’s bigger picture, and be honest with yourself in how you feel. Addressing your feelings and viewing the broad scope of your life will help you lead yourself and others so that you can improve your work and home life. 

Shifting from ordinary leadership to extraordinary leadership

In addition to looking inwards to check in with yourself, it’s also important to look inwards to lead yourself. Amber suggested you look within and address a recent challenge that emerged and how you handled it: 

“Here is an exercise we can use to help pivot from ordinary to extraordinary leadership. And what I want you to do for just a second is just take a look within and get in touch with a recent challenge that arose for you during extraordinary times. Now, with that challenge in mind, look at what you already know is right and true for you. So what about these circumstances feels unique? … If you notice you start to think about what others might say, or think, or perceive about what’s right and true for you, redirect yourself back to your inner world.”

Amber Setter

Don’t focus on how others would handle your situation or problem. Instead, focus on your unique circumstances and what is true for you when dealing with this challenge. Take a moment to contemplate a challenge that you may be facing and follow Amber’s instructions to focus on what’s right and true for you about the challenge. 

When you focus on leading a life that’s right and true for you, you can shift from ordinary to extraordinary leadership. During challenging times, we can address our challenges in order to lead ourselves and others. Once you shift to extraordinary leadership, you can help those around you and benefit your company: 

“Being extraordinary is not just leading for your own self, it’s checking in on the welfare and wellbeing of others during extraordinary times. … That creates massive stickiness, and retention, and loyalty in your organization. So it’s a beautiful way to really connect and help people. But there’s also a massive business benefit that comes to being a caring and connected leader.”

Amber Setter 

Introduce your clients to payroll they’ll actually love.

Use your extraordinary leadership to help others that may be struggling during a crisis. You can check in on your team’s wellbeing to build a stronger organization rooted in meaningful connections. 

Learn more about extraordinary leadership 

If you want to learn more about extraordinary leadership, make sure to check out Part Two and Part Three of this webinar article series, where Amber will teach you about unleashing your full leadership potential and how you can lead more effectively during uncertain times. You can also watch the full webinar here

Here at Gusto, our mission is to create a world where work empowers a better life. We aim to strengthen accountants’ leadership abilities by offering a People Advisory Certification program. Through our program, you’ll learn all about advising your clients in people-based services, such as HR, payroll, and benefits. You gain full access to our certification program when you partner with Gusto, and you’ll also receive essential tools for growing your firm, like integrated software workflows and a dedicated partner advisor. If you’re ready to unlock your full leadership potential, partner with Gusto today. 

Updated: August 17, 2021

Gusto Editors
Gusto Editors
Back to top