Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Essential Questions

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

You have gathered all of your partners for the annual partner retreat. You are not going to discuss day-to-day issues. You are all going to focus on strategic issues that will take your firm into the future.

You work diligently for one or two days and document a strategic plan. Allow time at the end of the retreat to discuss one more thing. It is David Maister’s essential questions of strategy (from his book Strategy and the Fat Smoker). Consider these questions, discuss these questions because they are the questions that are often avoided in strategic planning:

“Which of our habits are we really prepared to change, permanently and forever? Which lifestyle changes are we really prepared to make? What issues are we really ready to tackle?”

 

  • Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
  • Nelson Mandela

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Six Habits of Mind

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

Alan Wurtzel, the former CEO of Circuit City, spent three years exploring the rise and fall of his company. He offers some important Habits of Mind. He wrote a book titled, Good to Great to Gone. Here are his Habits of Mind:

6 Habits of Mind:

1. Be Humble; Run Scared. Constantly doubt your understanding of things. Say, “I may not be right.”

2. Curiosity Sustains the Cat: Answers end curiosity. Keep curiosity alive by saying, “That’s a great answer are there other options?”

3. Confront the Brutal FactsIf you don’t confront the brutal facts now, they’ll confront you later.

4. Boldly Follow Through: Big ideas require bold leadership and attract loyal followers.

5. Mind the Culture: Create a caring and ethical culture where employees can make mistakes without fear of adverse consequences.

6. Encourage Debate: Encourage and learn from dissent.

  • There is no failure except in no longer trying.
  • Chris Bradford

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

Talk With Your Team About Purpose

“The purpose of your business should be as clear as the name on your building, not another page in your HR handbook.” – William Vanderbloemen

Yes, talk to your team about the firm’s purpose. However, the ownership group better talk about it first!

Have you really given any thought about the purpose of your firm?

A recent study from Korn Ferry showed that companies with teams focused on their organization’s purpose had annual growth rates nearly three times the annual rate for their entire industry.

The survey also showed that 90% of people who worked in a purpose-driven organization reported feeling engaged in their work.

Forbes.com contributor, William Vanderbloemen, CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group (an executive search firm focused on churches) discusses the great impact of focusing on purpose. Read his Forbes article here.

Do CPA firms have a strong purpose? You bet they do! I talk to a lot of CPAs and the thing they love the most is their clients. When I ask managers and staff of public accounting firms what they like best about working at a firm they almost always name “the clients” first.

CPAs are the most trusted advisor. They help businesses and individuals become more successful. They help family businesses survive. They help transition businesses from generation to generation. They help clients better understand tax issues and accounting practices. The healthier the business community, the healthier the community. CPAs play a huge role in that.

I know you can add to this list of what you do but do you talk about it? Do you identify your purpose and keep it in front of your employees? Are you persistent in pushing the importance of your core values? Are the core values meaningful and understandable? I admire the values of Mr. Vanderbloemen’s firm:

  • Broadband Love
  • Unusual Servanthood
  • Wow-Making Excellence
  • Ridiculous Responsiveness
  • Solution-Side Living
  • Ever-Increasing Agility
  • Stewardship of Life
  • Constant Improvement
  • Contagious Fun

Learn more about each value by visiting the website. It is under the “About” tab. For example, Solution-Side Living means:  The Vanderbloemen team members are problem solvers, always having a solution mentality and not a victim mentality.

They actually all nine of their core values them painted on a wall in their staff meeting room – covering the entire wall in big letters of different styles and sizes.

Take steps this summer to better define your culture. Make it a purposeful culture. Identifying your core purpose is not enough. It requires a deep and abiding commitment from the top. Your purpose needs to be visible in all your actions and activities from hiring people to serving clients.

 

  • The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

The Best Way to Train New Staff

“The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.” – Michael Jackson

Several years ago I heard Dustin Hostetler, Chief Innovation Officer at Boomer Consulting, talk about a method of training that he thought would be greatly beneficial to the CPA profession.

It is a simple, 4-step method but seems to make so much sense for interns and new hires working in accounting firms.

  1. I do – You watch
  2. I do – You help
  3. You do – I help
  4. You do – I watch

Here’s a short video with the complete explanation.

  • Learning is not watching a video, learning is taking action and seeing what happens.
  • Seth Godin

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

Disruption of the Profession

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” – John Maynard Keynes

Last week, Daniel Hood, Editor-in-Chief of Accounting Today, wrote a great article covering a presentation by Mark Koziel, of the AICPA, at the recent ENGAGE conference in Las Vegas.

Koziel noted that technology is taking us out of our comfort zone. “We as a profession can’t wait for regulation to disrupt us, we need to disrupt ourselves,” he said. “We’re going to take our expertise and interact with our clients in new and different ways.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Among the most important ways the profession will need to change will be to move up from services and activities that rapidly being automated. “Technology could automate 49 percent of current activities,” he warned. “Data processing and bookkeeping have a higher percentage chance of being automated, versus managing others and applying expertise – and that’s what CPAs do: We apply expertise. That’s less likely to be automated. Analyzing and interpreting data is where it’s at – not the low end of data entry,” he added.

Read the entire article here and share it with your partners and team members.

  • The key to success and change management is learning, then unlearning, and then relearning.
  • Mark Koziel, AICPA

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Get Moving!

“A plan that starts next week is a comfort to stagnation.” – Dan Rockwell

It is past mid-June. You have conducted your after-tax-season debriefing. You made a list of things to work on for next year. Action steps were discussed.

Many partner groups have already had their retreats. You came out of that session excited about the future and with some definite action steps.

How many steps have you taken? Have you taken even one? Get moving – summer is flying by.

  • I will prepare and some day my chance will come.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

You Probably Have One – A Bad Apple

“Bad apples spoil teams and healthy team dynamics, it is more important than top talent.” – Will Fleps

Over the years, I have often talked and written about bad apples inside accounting firms. A recent blog post by @leadershipfreak brought this important topic to light again.

As I always say, “One bad apple can ruin the whole barrel.” that means that the constant whiner inside your firm is doing significant damage in the long-term. Yet, CPAs are nice people and they just shy away from firing people – even bad apples.

Per the article, one bad apple lowers team performance up to 40%! Maybe that gets your attention.

Read the blog post here. Maybe it will inspire you to have a more critical look at some team members.

The first step is to let the bad apple know they are causing problems. Be honest and straight-forward. Give them a chance to change – but, don’t give them too long.

Warning! – Make sure your culture isn’t cultivating bad apples.

  • In marketing you must choose between boredom, shouting and seduction. Which do you want?
  • Roy H. Williams

Friday, June 1st, 2018

The Best Agreements – Flashback Friday

“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” – William Shakespeare

It’s Friday again. The week has flown by and it is time for a flashback post. You read lots of agreements – ones pertaining to your firm and others for your clients. Please put a book called The Four Agreements on your summer reading list.

Read more here.

  • Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage and confidence in the doing.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

We Are So busy

“Never mistake activity for achievement.” – John Wooden

I love the above quote and it is something that I think applies to CPA firm citizens.

I hear it all the time:

  • We are so busy.
  • No one has time to help me.
  • I hesitate to add new clients because I can’t ask the staff to work more hours.
  • And, many similar statements.

I also see it all the time. A huge amount of talking, debating and worrying with very little actually being accomplished. I observe it often in my coaching clients – lots of talk and excuses (we were too busy) and little achievement.

Analyze what you are so busy doing. The best thing you can be doing, no matter what level of staff you are (or partner), is to focus on developing others. Delegate to them and get yourself out of the busy-work and focus on achieving something bigger.

  • Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

To Act is Hard

“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.” ~ Goethe 

Read the above quote again.

Many CPAs working in public accounting will soon be participating in their firm’s annual partner, management or firm retreat.

You will THINK and explore many great ideas.

I urge you – act in accordance with your thinking.

  • You will never plow a field if you only turn it over in your mind.
  • Irish Proverb