Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

A Typical CPA Firm

“The idea that you will wake up tomorrow and everything that you know to be true about your practice is suddenly gone is a gross overstatement.” – Darren Root

While many profession leaders are warning CPAs that the typical public accounting firm is a dying breed and that its demise will happen rapidly, it is not what I observe in my consulting practice.

In the “typical” CPA firms I work with, there is definitely a need to become more digital and take advantage of the efficiencies that result. Most of these firms still do a lot of compliance work but also do a lot of true consulting work with their clients. I do expect them to make the transition into more of a consulting practice but I don’t expect it will happen rapidly.

That’s why I enjoyed reading Darren Root’s recent article via Accounting Today – The Traditional Is Still Very Much Alive.

Read it and see what you think. How will your firm make its way into the future?

  • Because technology and client demands will continue to push firms to adapt, we know that transformation, at some level, is inevitable.
  • Darren Root

Monday, February 4th, 2019

The Most Difficult

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

There is something you should do but it is very hard to do. It is difficult and challenging and easy to avoid.

As a leader in a CPA firm, you read about new trends. Many of you attend one or even more CPA firm management conferences each year. You are involved in your state society and take an active part on committees, etc. During these activities, you learn about what your firm needs to do to move successfully into the future.

You bring these ideas back to your firm. If you are a partner you probably set the date for a firm leadership (or partner) retreat. You spend a lot of money on the venue and the facilitator. You make sure that the new trends are on the agenda of the retreat.

At the retreat, the need for change and the adoption of the new trends into the firm is heartily agreed to by the attendees. A strategic plan or action plan is developed. Everyone is excited.

IntentionsIn the weeks and months following the meeting, nothing happens. You are too busy. It seems everyone else is also too busy.

The most difficult thing is taking action. As I often say when describing change inside an accounting firm, “Good intentions, no implementation.”

  • The best way out of a difficulty is through it.
  • Will Rogers

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Engage Your Team Members With Benefits & Perks

“The main thing that you have to remember on this journey is, just be nice to everyone and always smile.” – Ed Sheeran

I recently read an interesting article in CPA Practice Advisor. It is titled, Virginia CPA Firm Launches Extensive Employee Benefits and Perks Program. 

Some of their benefits and perks are things I have observed often in other firms. On the other hand, some of their benefits and perks are way ahead of many firms.

In this age of hiring, developing and retaining talented young professionals, you need to review your benefit package often and keep pace with current trends.

Read the article and see how your benefits stack-up.

My observation and experience tell me that a long list of perks won’t keep talented professionals at your firm if your leadership group is dysfunctional and doesn’t set an inspiring, professional example.

  • It is nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.
  • John Templeton

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

There Are Many Ways To Mentor Someone

“The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” – – Norman Vincent Peale

I receive lots of questions about how to make mentoring a successful endeavor in a CPA firm. The following are some ways that mentoring has changed in recent years. It doesn’t have to be an older, wiser man mentoring a young, eager protege. Think of your first memory of being mentored. I bet it was a teacher or coach… someone who thought you could do more than you thought you could.

Old Rule: Mentors and mentees should have a lot in common
New Rule: The best matches are mismatches

Old Rule: Look for your mentor higher-up on the food chain
New Rule: A good mentor is anyone from whom you can learn

Old Rule: Mentoring is one-on-one
New Rule: Mentoring works best when you mix and match

Old Rule: Mentors pick their mentees
New Rule: Mentees pick their mentors

Old Rule: You are either a mentor or a mentee
New Rule: Everyone needs mentors

  • The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.
  • John Maxwell

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

An Effective Way to a Coach Person

“It’s not hard to find smart people. It’s hard to find people who inspire and motivate.” – David Maister
If you never heard David Maister speak in person, you lost out on a memorable experience. He was vibrant and very direct.  He often would stop himself and say, “Okay, I’ve got to calm down.”
One lesson from Maister that I have never forgotten is an example he used in explaining the effective way to coach a person (a partner in a CPA firm, for example). The method is called “the pigeon story” and he presented it in a humorous and logical fashion.
I’ll try to summarize it briefly. If you want a pigeon (partner) to progress to another “place” that is too distant from them, they can’t do it in one huge step. You draw a line very close in front of them and draw them there. You coach them by saying, “Come on Pigeon, you can do it, I will help you.” When they get there you celebrate and then draw another line, not too far in front of them. Same with people (partners). It is too hard to make a gigantic leap to an annual goal – it is too far in the distance. Instead, set a goal that is a small step away and continually repeat, “Come on partner, you can do it, I will help you.” After seven or eight lines (small steps, 9 or 10 for tax partners), they arrive at the larger goal.
  • The way to get rich is don’t get sucked into doing dumb stuff for people you don’t like.
  • David Maister

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Clarity

“If you have drama, there is a lack of clarity at the root.” – Marlene Chism

Yesterday, I wrote about being very clear about what you expect from people. Clearly communicate your expectations.

This morning I read an interesting article by Marlene Chism titled, The Root Cause of Workplace Drama: Lack of Clarity.

She notes, one reason for lack of clarity is failing managers:

There is a reason people do what they do, and that reason is often due to the culture and past experiences. For example, on a consulting project, I found out that the reason managers didn’t make decisions is because they lacked confidence. The reason the managers lacked confidence was because many of their decisions had been overridden by senior leaders. Therefore, the managers feared making mistakes and losing face in front of employees.

She also talks about unsuccessful employees and wrong issues/quick fixes. Read the entire article here.

  • Avoid the tendency to focus on a solution before clearly identifying the problem.
  • Marlene Chism

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Managing Your Time

“Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.” – Peter Drucker

How well do you manage time?

In the CPA profession, we talk about time, worry about time and track time. Yet, how many CPAs have ever taken a time management course?

It doesn’t matter if you value price or bill by the hour, how much time do you waste?

Here’s an interesting viewpoint on time from LeadershipFreak.

  • The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.
  • Leo Tolstoy

Friday, January 18th, 2019

Punctuality

I have always admired punctuality in others. There is an old saying:

Punctuality is the politeness of kings.

Here’s the story of where that saying originated:

Kings (especially before the [French] revolution) didn’t need to be punctual. They could show up when they wanted. After all, people would wait for them. But [King Louis XVIII of France, to whom the quote is often attributed] suggests that one way a king can show respect for other people is to meet them at the appointed time. If this is true for kings, it certainly is true for you and me.

  • In the ordinary business of life punctuality is... necessary.
  • Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Say It…. Or Not?

“It is a great mistake ever to say anything when you needn’t.” – Agatha Christie 

Communication is an issue inside most CPA firms. Almost every issue my clients need to address can be traced back to communication.

Usually, it means that there is not nearly enough communication. Often, there is communication but not done in the right manner.

An example wrong communication: Betty is almost always late. She is scheduled to arrive at 8:30 but often actually arrives at 9:00 or later. Partners are bothered by this behavior. So, an email is sent to the entire team reminding them that they are expected to arrive before 8:30 each morning. Everyone knows they mean Betty and it results in lots of complaining (among the team) and loss of respect for the partners.

On the other hand, leaders sometimes actually say too much. They might confide their displeasure with other partners to a manager or even to a member of the admin team. Thus, the quote from Agatha Christie, above, applies.

 

  • A fool is made more of a fool, when their mouth is more open than their mind.”
  • Anthony Liccione

Friday, January 11th, 2019

What Does Leadership Look Like Podcast

“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water and breeds reptiles of the mind.” – William Blake

Thanks so much to Jessica Salerno of The Ohio Society of CPAs for interviewing me for one of the Society’s podcasts.

Episode info:

As the accounting profession evolves, leadership has to evolve along with it. We spoke with Rita Keller, respected CPA firm management consultant and author of the daily blog “Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders,” on how leadership in accounting has changed over the years, the common leadership mistakes she’s seen, the one thing leaders aren’t doing enough and more.

Click here to listen to the podcast. I also appreciate the Young CPAs of Ohio tweet!

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  • Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.
  • Victor Hugo