Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Monday, January 18th, 2021

Drama, Fear & Conflict

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity.” – Warren Bennis

Accountants, in general, are kind, caring, and sincere. They live their lives helping their clients become successful. They often have difficult conversations with their clients.

Inside their own CPA firm, they ignore conflict and avoid confrontation. Partners and managers often dodge conflict in the hopes that someone else will deal with it. Yet, they readily admit that there is way too much drama going on inside the firm.

Often the conflict is between two or more employees. However, the most troubling conflict is when employees actually fear one or more of the firm leaders, and other leaders hide from the drama, fear, and conflict.

Here’s a quote from Marlene Chism:

“If there are performance problems, workplace drama, or disruptive behaviors in your workplace, it’s because it’s been allowed. Avoiding difficult conversations causes a culture of dysfunction that affects every aspect of business.” – Marlene Chism

Read that quote again. From the mildest conflict to actual fear of an individual continues because IT’S BEEN ALLOWED.

Some issues eventually go away on their own but most do not. YOU must deal with it. Here’s a helpful article from Chism.

  • Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
  • Winston Churchill

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Keep People Connected

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

Once again, Withum shares a great video. This one was shared with their entire team so that they continue to feel very connected to the firm and to each other.

What is your firm doing?

Click here to see the video.

  • As the world becomes a more digital place, we cannot forget about the human connection.
  • Adam Newmann

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

We’ll Get Back to Where We Were… Wrong!

‘You did that this year; why not last year or the year before?’ – Allan Koltin

I hear it said over and over. “When things get back to normal…”.

Most CPA firms have made great progress since March 2020. Even the AICPA is saying that firms have achieved needed change that they (the AICPA) thought would take five years. Firms did it in a few days and continually improved upon it throughout 2020. I am talking about enabling and embracing a remote workforce.

Some very small firms did not make this leap. They think it is a good thing that they still go into the office and operate in the old school way. I’m not sure that is a wise decision.

I agree with this observation by Allan Koltin:

“It’s not about bricks and mortar anymore,” he said. “I believe in three to five years, we will get rid of that space. The metric will drop down to 150 square feet per person. We will redesign offices for what we want them to be — a center for collaboration and training, a place to have meetings — and build it out accordingly. It’s a difficult conversation — some of you think that after the vaccine, we will come back to 2019.”

  • I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.
  • Lawrence Bossidy

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Leadership Development

Once again, it is time to invest in the future success of your firm. I am happy to share this opportunity for your partners-in-training from The Partner Institute™

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter F. Drucker

How is your firm’s foundation for ensuring long term success and growth?
Is your firm taking the necessary steps to develop the next generation of leaders? When considering the right CPA leadership development program for your firm, what is important to you? Leadership is the cornerstone of your firm’s future. Read More
Announcing The Partner Institute™ 2021
The Partner Institute™ is a comprehensive, three-year leadership development experience designed specifically for the CPA. Our program provides participants with world-class training, a continuous learning environment, and a culture of accountability that is unmatched.
We are dedicated to creating the best experience for our participants and appreciate the value of providing in-person training. As such, we have decided to delay the start of our 2021 program.
If you have not registered, there is still time. Enroll now and join us for the launch of our next program on June 9-11, 2021 at Walt Disney World. Learn More
Reserve your spot in The Partner Institute™ by submitting your registration and a deposit of $500. Attend the initial course and then decide if the program is right for you. If you elect to continue, we will invoice you accordingly. 
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  • Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.
  • Orrin Woodward

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

Your Leadership

“Example is leadership.” – Albert Schweitzer

Today is different. It is a day to visibly demonstrate your leadership.

Your team will need wise and comforting words from you.

Reinforce your firm’s professional and inclusive culture every chance you get.

As a team member in the firm, embrace and strengthen that professional and inclusive culture as you progress in your career.

  • Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

Six Things You Need to Do When You Become a Partner

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”  – Michael Jordan

I have heard Sam Allred, Founder of Upstream Academy, speak numerous times during my many years working in public accounting and it has always been inspiring.

At a CPAFMA conference several years ago, Allred shared his Six Things Leaders Need to Do. I heard this presentation back in 2009 and the six things still apply today (and maybe even more so).

When you become a partner:

Give up The Right to Remain Silent – when you become a partner, you must speak up at THE meeting (the partner meeting) – not nod your head and then go door-to-door after the meeting talking to the other partners. Not speaking up, in the proper forum, creates artificial harmony.

Keep an Open Mind – I relate this one to “seek first to understand and then be understood.”

You Give Up The Right to Make All Decisions – Sole-practitioners have this right. When you make the decision to be part of A FIRM, you give up that right.

Learn to Make the Proper Commitment – Saying/thinking, “I will stay out of the way” is not making a commitment. It’s a case of “grudging compliance” vs. “spirited commitment.”

Willingness to Get Outside Your Comfort Zone – You cannot stand still. Becoming a partner doesn’t mean you “made it” and now you can coast.

You Become A Leader for Change, Not an Anchor – You are helping row the boat, not sitting in the back, and throwing out anchors when something doesn’t go your way.

  • None of us is as smart as all of us.
  • Ken Blanchard

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021


“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey

If you have read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, you are familiar with Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.

If you have not read The Seven Habits, buy it today and begin reading it. It would be a wonderful way to begin a new year. If you read it years ago, read it again.

Habit 5 is my favorite and provided me the insight to guide my own career.

Another quote from Covey: “If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Most leaders in CPA firms want to be understood. You want people to understand why you are doing what you are doing and why you are thinking what you are thinking. After all, you are doing this to make your firm better, to make it more competitive, to make it more profitable and to make it a place where people will want to work.

When you take the time to listen (don’t be thinking what you want to say next!), you will begin to understand other people and this ultimately leads to them understanding you.

The people you work with come from varying backgrounds. Some are the first in their family to graduate from college. Some come from highly competitive and successful families. Others come to public accounting because they want to help people while other are motivated by financial rewards.

Leading these various types and creating a foundation of teamwork is going to be a huge challenge. Start with trying to understand each of them.

  • Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
  • Stephen Covey

Monday, January 4th, 2021

A Great CPA Firm

“A culture of greatness doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when a leader expects greatness and each person in the organization builds it, lives it, values it, reinforces it and fights for it.” – Jon Gordon

The above quotation from Jon Gordon, of course, made me think of the many CPA firms I know and have known over the many years I have been working with the CPA profession.

You can definitely tell if they have a culture of greatness and if their leaders nurture that culture.

As this year begins, think about the culture in your firm. Is it one of greatness? Is that greatness nurtured?

If not, be sure to identify your culture and go from there. If you have not sculpted your culture, it will form anyway and it might become a culture that you are not proud of.

Some cultures to avoid:

  • The lack of urgency culture.
  • The back-biting culture.
  • The sweat shop culture.
  • The old school culture.
  • The make fun of clients culture.
  • The “us” against “them” culture.

Hire for cultural fit and make your culture one of inclusion, life-long-learning, appreciation and pride.

Gallup offers a free culture development guide. Learn more about it here.

  • A company can't buy true emotional commitment from managers no matter how much it's willing to spend; this is something too valuable to have a price tag. And yet a company can't afford not to have it.
  • Stan Slap

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

Next Year

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

The following is a Flashback Post from 2017. I think it applies to every year-end.

How many times have you said those two words, “next year”?

Maybe to your kids, “You’ll be old enough to do that next year.”

Maybe to your spouse, “Honey, we’ll take that special vacation trip next year.”

Maybe to yourself, “I’m going to lose 25 pounds next year!”

How about inside your firm?

“We will work on it and become COMPLETELY paperless next year.”

“We can’t do it this year, but next year we will out-place those five clients that drive our staff nuts.”

“We promise to be more timely with our feedback process next year.”

“We will add a few more employee benefits next year.”

“We have to update our website next year.”

“We will look into all this new digital stuff like blockchain and artificial intelligence, next year.”

“I’ll pass the CPA exam next year.”

For all these “next years” relating to your firm: Friday is NEXT YEAR.

For NOW – have a happy and safe New Years’ weekend!

I am taking another 4-day weekend. Watch for my blog on Monday, January 4th. Happy New Year!

  • It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and the broken promises.
  • Chief Joseph

Monday, December 28th, 2020

An Investment

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings

The military takes a young, enthusiastic person and turns them into highly-skilled soldiers, sailors, marines, etc. These very young people have huge, life or death responsibilities. (Haven’t you seen the documentaries about the flight deck crew on an aircraft carrier?)

They do this by training, training and more training. It is how they build for the future.

Training is not an expense – – it is an important investment.

In many accounting firms, the partners are focused too much on the cost of training. Be generous with training dollars. It is an important investment in the future of your firm.

Too often I have heard CPA firm employees say, “Oh, my partners would never pay for that (fill-in the blank).” They are hesitant to pay for training, a conference, a subscription to a publication, coaching or even a book!

Again, if you want to build future leaders for your firm, be generous with training, training, and more training.

  • You cannot prevent a major catastrophe, but you can build an organization that is battle-ready, where people trust one another. In military training, the first rule is to instill soldiers with trust in their officers - because without trust, they won't fight.
  • Peter Drucker