Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Getting Started

“I learned a long time ago that there is something worse than missing the goal, and that’s not pulling the trigger.” – Mia Hamm

Think back to when you were a child. Part of growing up is exploring your world. A child sees a creek and wades in to cross it. A child sees a tree and doesn’t hesitate to climb it. There is no fear of failure.

Accountants have a reputation for being careful, cautious, and conservative. As a leader, do you always begin cautiously, avoiding risk at all costs? Does indecision prohibit you from action?

We are living in a bold new world. As the old saying goes, “he who hesitates is lost.”

We are going into fall. It is a time for reflection and, more importantly, a time to take action to prepare your firm for 2021. Modify that accountant reputation – – Be careful, cautious, conservative and yet, decisive and bold

  • Eighty percent of success is just showing up.
  • Woody Allen

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Act Upon Your Ideas

“Without hustle talent will only carry you so far.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

It is so exciting to go to a conference (or attend virtually) and obtain all kinds of ideas that spark your own ideas. You are invigorated, enthused, and committed to meeting with others on your team and sharing your ideas and intentions.

Then you get sidelined. The phone rings and a client or two or three need something and that seems more important than your idea. You will take care of these clients needs and then work more on that great idea.

Then you get sidelined. Your partners remind you that you have to get that selection of a new software finalized. You have to deal with performance feedback sessions and then you will work more on that great idea.

Someone else in thee firm talks about a great idea that is similar to yours. They work on getting others involved and soon that great ideas is becoming reality.

They found the time to get it done. You did not. They made it a top priority. You did not. You intended to do it but they made the time and succeeded.

Have you ever, in a meeting, a class or a training session, whispered a great comment to the person sitting next to you, and then they raise their hand and vocalize the great comment? It happened to some of us in high school or college. It happened to some of us in a staff meeting. It makes you feel sad and resentful.

Next time, raise your hand, speak up, and take action. You have the time, you just did not make it a top priority. Intending to get it done someday is no longer an option.

  • The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.
  • Steve Harvey

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

Client Accounting Services

“If our true intent is to differentiate CAS from our previous bookkeeping services, we need to offer unique services that tie people directly to our firm and create loyalty.” – Bill Reeb

The growth and success of CAS makes me very happy.

I can remember when accounting services (or bookkeeping as some partners always called it), was the very bottom level of the client services menu. Many firms even quit providing these services because they were simply not profitable enough (and new CPAs thought this work was below them). In addition to that, qualified, skilled bookkeepers were more difficult to find than accounting grads.

There is a good article via the Journal of Accountancy featuring Bill Reeb and his observations about the success of CAS. He identified issues that can prevent CAS from becoming successful.

  • The CAS service line leader and their manager are not in alignment.
  • Partners haven’t bought in.
  • The CAS practice is inadequately staffed.

One other problem is that in many firms the entire CAS operation is on the shoulders of just one highly motivated individual.

How is your CAS division doing? Are you giving it enough support? Are you bragging about it to all your clients?

  • A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
  • Jeff Bezos

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Helping

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Maya Angelou

The above quote is another one that immediately reminded me of CPAs.

When you are a recent college graduate with an accounting degree you just want to get hired and begin to explore your career in public accounting. It is an exciting time, a stressful time. You work hard, and often long hours, to become more knowledgeable and to gain skills in dealing with clients, peers and bosses. It takes both hands… and a lot more.

Helping is a word to keep in mind as you advance in your career. When you began, you soon discovered that you were needed to help others. You became the person that new hires came to with questions and depended on for guidance.

When you became a manager and then, perhaps, a partner, you found that you had matured and began to think more like the above quote. You do not sell something to clients, you help them become more successful. You still use one hand to advance your own success but you never forget to use the other hand to mentor and coach your team and to advise and guide your clients.

  • No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.
  • Charles Dickens

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

Fake Deadlines

“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?” Seth Godin

Every so often, I feature a complete post from Seth Godin. I do it because I feel like it has special meaning for those of you involved in the management of a public accounting firm.

Have you ever established a fake deadline for tax due dates? I know some of you have. Here is Godin’s post titled Fake Deadlines:

FAKE DEADLINES

Slack enables systems to function with more efficiency. That’s because unavoidable delays and errors compound in a system that doesn’t have enough buffer space.

But fake deadlines don’t solve this problem. Fake deadlines exist when we can’t trust others (or ourselves) to be clear about our progress or prioritize honestly. So we invent a date before we actually need something to arrive.

The challenge is that fake deadlines compound. Once someone on another project realizes that they’ve been outfoxed by a fake deadline, they’ll simply escalate their urgency as well. Or perhaps the provider realizes that we’ve been faking the deadlines, and so now there’s a whole new level of guessing about what the real deadline is.

Professionals don’t need fake deadlines and don’t respect them. Instead, we have the chance to build in appropriate slack, get our priorities straight and keep our promises.

  • Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.
  • Seth Godin

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

How Do You Come Across?

“Let us be more simple and less vain.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I recently read an eye-opening article via HBR titled, “Working with People Who Aren’t Self-Aware.” Guess what? It describes many people I have met in the CPA profession!

How many of your partners are not self-aware? HBR discovered that although 95% of people think they are self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

A staff person in a client firm described a partner as being un-self-aware. The partner talked too much, just constant chatter about his ideas and opinions that were more important than anyone else’s. In a two-person conversation with this partner, you could turn your back, go back to work on your computer and the partner would simply continue to talk, talk, talk, never realizing that you had heard enough!

Some of your un-self-aware team members can be helped. First, find out how others feel so you can determine if they are really unaware.

Here’s a list from the article:

  • They won’t listen to, or accept, critical feedback.
  • They cannot empathize with, or take perspective of, others.
  • They have difficulty “reading a room” and tailoring their message to their audience.
  • They possess an inflated opinion of their contributions and performance.
  • They are hurtful to others without realizing it.
  • They take credit for successes and blame other for failures.

There is a big difference between the unaware and the Aware-Don’t-Care individuals. Read the entire article to see if you can help the people in your firm who are not self-aware. You might not cure them but you can minimize their impact.

I believe most CPAs are self-aware and care about others. The people who are Aware-Don’t-Care people usually don’t last long in an accounting firm.

  • Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying.
  • St. Vincent de Paul

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

Take Care of Your People

“Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that.” – Herb Kelleher

I have often written about Herb Kelleher and I used his quotes often in the many presentations I did over the years. The reason is…… he believed in taking care of your people!

It has been very trying times. Your people have done the best they could with the situation that was forced upon them. They worked (and are working) diligently to serve clients fully and passionately.

As a firm leader, it your job to not only take care of clients but also take care of your people. Don’t put them at a lower position on your priority list.

Let them know you care. Let them know you appreciate how hard they are working. Let them see you… use video chats. Some employees would be simply amazed if they got a video invitation from the managing partner.

Other non-CPA professionals… marketing directors, HR directors, firm administrators, technology leaders… touch base with individual team members whenever possible. It would be good for them and also good for you. You don’t want them to forget you exist!

Show your team (and our peers) your passion for life and work. Show them your kindness, your sense of humor and your sense of true teamwork.

How about just simply sending individual emails to team members thanking them for being on your team?

  • Power should be reserved for weightlifting and boats, and leadership really involves responsibility.
  • Herb Kelleher

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

It Is Not Easy

“Don’t join an easy crowd: you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.” – Jim Rohn

The above quotation certainly applies to the CPA profession. It applies if you are the managing partner of the firm or if you are the Director of First Impressions.

If you work in the accounting profession, you are not part of “the easy crowd.”

It is a demanding business. So many clients to serve with so many problems. Due dates that always seem to be looming on the horizon. A technical work product that must be absolutely, positively correct.

Appreciate where you are and what you are doing. Always step-up to the challenge and you will continually grow in knowledge, expertise and reputation.

Personally, I have always felt like I did my best when the demands and expectations were high. I enjoy a culture where there is a sense of urgency and where you know that what you do makes a positive difference.

I hope you feel that way, too. Sure, there are times when you are tired, over-worked, and cynical. But let those moments be just fleeting moments and be proud of what you are accomplishing.

  • If you expect nothing from anybody, you're never disappointed.
  • Sylvia Plath

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Flashback Friday – Procrastination

“If you are not passionate about what you mostly do, you better find another job.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

When you are driven by deadlines – like March 15, April 15 and this year July 15, it seems to allow many CPAs to put things off until the last minute. You even allow clients to facilitate your procrastination.

Read this flashback post – Fight it! – Procrastination.

  • In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

Enduring Character

“Firmness in enduring and exertion is a character I always wish to possess. I have always despised the whining yelp of complaint and cowardly resolve.” – Robert Burns

I have observed, in some accounting firms, there is a disproportionate number of people who whine and complain.

Do you have “firmness in enduring and exertion” as a characteristic? Or, do you often find yourself doing what I call moaning and groaning about just about everything? I call it the Eeyore complex.

Even some therapists refuse to allow clients to complain endlessly. They have set time limits on how long a client can stay on a certain topic and have even declared some topics off-limits.

Some people whine because they are deeply distressed by something that they feel powerless to change. Could the whiners in your firm feel that way? Enhancing communication could be a partial cure.

One positive step would be to do an employee survey and seek out the issues that cause people to feel distressed and then take action on those issues.

If you catch yourself complaining, keep in mind nobody likes a complainer. If you don’t believe me, just Google “nobody likes a complainer.”

  • When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change he situation, or accept it. All else is madness.
  • Eckhart Tolle