Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Do We Make Leadership Too Difficult?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

In the CPA profession, there is an enormous amount of resources for leadership training. We hear about it all the time, we read about it all the time and there are hundreds of books written every year on leadership. Almost all of the prominent CPA management advisors offer a “leadership training” program. And yes, I write many blog posts on the topic of leadership.

Does all the training and reading on leadership work? Are we making it too difficult? Are we expecting too much? Are we spending too much on leadership training? Isn’t most of it obtained by experience and passion?

I hope you follow HBR on Twitter (@harvardbiz). Here’s an HBR tweet I read this week that led me to an excellent article:

With such a flurry of developments, there must be some useful new ways to think about leadership.

An excerpt from the article:

The reality, however, is somewhat different. Yes, the leadership development industry is thriving, and yes there are a lot of new and interesting ideas, some of which may prove to be helpful. But despite many changes in our context — as organizations have become more democratic and networked, for example — in its fundamentals leadership has not changed over the years. It is still about mobilizing people in an organization around common goals to achieve impact, at scale.

Getting a promotion or becoming a partner does not make you a leader.

  • Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Leaders of Smaller Firms Have a Great Resource

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Over my many years in the CPA profession, I have worked with firms of all sizes – sole-proprietors with one location to Top 100 firms with nationwide representation. Honestly, the challenges and frustrations CPAs working in public practice face are pretty much the same no matter what the size of the firm.

I really enjoy working with smaller CPA firms and my current client list is made up almost entirely of smaller firms (under 50 total FTEs). I find the smaller the firm, the more they are under-served by outside consultants.

For many of my smaller firm clients, I always recommend they get involved in the AICPA PCPS Networking Groups. There are groups for Small, Medium and Large Firms. These groups are especially valuable to small firms. Currently, there are four small firm groups, two medium firm groups, and one large firm group. The groups meet twice per year.

Through each group’s informal system, networking group members may take advantage of the valuable knowledge of their colleagues and share their own knowledge with their peers.  While many group members are firm owners/partners, any member of a PCPS firm is welcome to attend networking group meetings. Learn more here.

If you have questions regarding networking groups, please call them at 1-800-CPA-FIRM or email them at pcps@aicpa.org.  They would love to hear from you!

  • There are somethings that you can fulfill with money, but at the end of the day these are not the things that make you happy. It is the small things that make life good.
  • Sebastian Vettel

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Treating People With “Ignore”

“Over and over I marvel at the blessings of my life: Each year has grown better than the last.” – Lawrence Welk

Do you have one of those people (usually a partner) in your firm that treats people with “ignore”?

They come in the front door in the morning and don’t say a word or make eye contact with anyone else. They hurriedly walk to their office.

They come into the break room first thing in the morning to get a cup of coffee, quickly pour it and exit without acknowledging the presence of several others in the room.

They rarely, if ever, even say good morning to anyone.

The rarely, if ever, say thank-you when a team member provides something for them or passes an assignment along to them for review.

If these descriptions sound like you, wake-up! Be aware! Show people you appreciate them and care about them.

If this is someone you know, do what I always do – “kill them with kindness!” Smile at them and always say “Good morning.” Ask, “How are you today?” Ask if there is anything you can help them with. Tell them a brief, amusing story about something happening within the firm.

Sometimes, their distant behavior might be caused by more serious things, things you are not aware of. Be kind and count your blessings, especially this week.

  • When you are grateful - when you can see what you have - you unlock blessings to flow in your life.
  • Suze Orman

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Top Five Concerns

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” – Abraham Lincoln

CCH released the results of their survey of firms. Here are the top five concerns published via Accounting Today:

  1. Keeping up with technological change
  2. Growing the business
  3. Meeting client expectations
  4. Data security
  5. Completing work accurately and on time

You can download the full report here.

 

  • Concern yourself more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame. Let the possibilities inspire you more than the obstacles discourage you.
  • Ralph Marston

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Executive Presence, What Does That Mean?

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” —Jack Welch

My friend Kristen Rampe has been providing some amazing workshops for some of my clients and other progressive CPA firms. Here’s some information about one of her most popular workshops. Maybe it would be helpful to your team members.

EXECUTIVE PRESENCE AND CHARISMA

How you show up matters. For many CPAs, displaying higher levels of confidence and charisma in their interactions with clients, co-workers and the community can make a significant impact on achieving professional and personal goals.

Exhibiting the traits we associate with charisma and executive presence doesn’t come naturally to everyone. When was the last time you or your team set aside some time to discuss modern professional dress or actively work on posture, eye contact and confidence?

This session gives practical knowledge, advice and live practice that leaves participants feeling empowered to reach their next level of leadership.

Get more information on her workshop here.

  • I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.
  • Alexander The Great

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

I’ve Been Thinking About Followership

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Last year, I again had the chance to visit the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. I had been there a couple of times before but it has been quite a few years ago and this was the first time I had visited the actual visitor’s center.

The Center provides great information and outside there is a walkway that brings you to a spectacular view of the U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel (the inside is simply breath-taking).

At the visitor center, I learned that the program at the Academy is guided by the Air Force’s core values of “Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do”, and based on four “pillars of excellence”: military training, academics, athletics, and character development.

I was also able to read about the cumulative responsibilities that cadets are taught as they move through their 4-year education. Yes, they are taught (and developed into) leaders. And, they are also taught followership.

Fourth Class – Freshman Year

  • Demonstrate assertive followership skills
  • Prepare to be instructors of the next fourth class

Third Class – Sophomore Year

  • Demonstrate effective instructional skills
  • Prepare to be supervisors in the cadet wing
  • Exemplify assertive followership skills

Second Class – Junior Year

  • Demonstrate effective supervisory skills
  • Prepare to be cadet officer-leaders in the cadet wing
  • Exemplify effective instructional and assertive followership skills

First Class – Senior Year

  • Demonstrate effective leadership and officership skills
  • Prepare to be commissioned officers in the US Air Force
  • Exemplify effective supervisory, instructional, and followership skills

Notice how each year builds on the prior year. What if, inside CPA firms, we taught more about followership? What if we had well-defined training programs that continued to build on the prior year without forgetting the basics (like followership)? What if all partners demonstrated followership as well as teamwork?

So many articles, programs, conferences, seminars, webinars, and CPE classes are focused on leadership skills for accountants and we still hear, profession-wide, that we don’t have enough future leaders.

Maybe we are going about it all wrong.

  • The world is moved not only by the mighty shoves of heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.
  • Helen Keller

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

It Matters

“If you have to choose between being kind and being right, choose being kind and you will always be right.” – Dalai Lama

Inside CPA firms, the partners usually have the strongest relationship with clients.

Often they even meet and talk with clients. They have lunch together and work on helping the client be more successful. They are doing “consulting” with the client.

Meanwhile, back at the office, there are various team members that work on the client’s engagement. Through the firm’s scheduling system, they are assigned a certain task for a certain client. Often it involves working extra hours to accomplish the engagement.

In progressive firms, the team members do have contact with someone at the client’s place of business but maybe not the owner.

Partners, after you have had a meeting or a lunch with a client, be sure to go back to the office and tell the person (or people) who did all the work behind the scenes how the client is doing and how their work is making a positive difference in the client’s success.

Their work matters. That’s what people want to know.

Better, yet, take a team member along when you meet with a client. It is how they learn to become consultants.

  • When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.
  • Dalai Lama

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Are You Breaking This Employment Law?

“Win or lose, do it fairly.” – Knute Rockne

The whole topic of exempt vs. non-exempt has been a challenging conversation inside CPA firms ever since I can remember.

Many CPA firm leaders think the simple answer to paying people is to “put them on salary.” This might not be a wise choice.

I have heard so many questions over the years about docking a salaried person’s pay if they are continually tardy, leave early, etc.

Please take time to read this informative article via Inc. by Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady. It is titled, “The Employment Law You Are Probably Breaking.”

Here’s an excerpt:

You can discipline, fire, demote, yell at, or dock vacation time. But, you may not dock pay. And if you do dock pay? You’ve just made that person non-exempt. Which means you not only owe overtime going forward, you owe it going backward. So your attempt to save $50 by docking two hours pay could mean you’ll be out thousands in back overtime pay.

  • The Way You See People Is The Way You Treat Them, And The Way You Treat Them Is What They Become
  • Goethe

Friday, October 26th, 2018

You Can Get A Lot Done In Two Months!

“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.” – General George S. Patton

I get into some lively discussions that are focused on firm governance. It is about getting the right people on the bus and getting them in the right seats.

Do you have partners in the wrong seats? Perhaps, they are in the administrative, operations, HR seats rather than the revenue generating, nurturing future leaders and bringing in business seats?

During one of my conversations with a client, the CPA partner said, “I don’t think we have time to do anything about this now, I guess it should wait until after busy season.” That sure pushed me onto my soapbox!

It is late October. You have an entire two months to get important firm initiatives rolling along the path to completion.

Leaders, please do not waste two entire months – November and December (and there is usually time up until February) to do things that need to be done at your firm!

CPAs, thank goodness, like to be sure things are correct (and maybe even perfect). Your firm management and operations will never be perfect. It is a work-in-progress and should stay that way.

Continually focus on small changes that never cease. I call it taking baby-steps. Move from status quo (which is comfortable) to “an improved position.” – – one step at a time. Then, repeat that same process.

Need to realign governance so that your partners are more productive? Need to develop a system so that your younger team members are better mentored and trained during busy season? Begin now, in November, don’t wait until Spring.

Your systems will never be perfect – that’s the joy of it. Have fun DOING THINGS!

  • I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.
  • Woody Allen

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Within Driving Distance of Indianapolis? – Join me!

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

I know many of you are not within driving distance – but I also know that Indiana has many great CPA firms and the Indiana Chapter of CPAFMA has a great membership.

So, mark your calendar for Friday, November 16th. I will be speaking at the Indiana Chapter meeting. It is a morning presentation so you can have all afternoon to drive back home (or to the office).

My topic is “Surviving Change in the CPA Profession.” It is an exciting time to be a CPA or working in a CPA firm, but how is your firm preparing future? It is not a time for a “wait and see” attitude.

Follow this link to download a document that gives you all the information about the meeting and how to register.

The very first CPAFMA I ever attended over 30 years ago was in Indianapolis. The Indiana Chapter is near and dear to me.

  • Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
  • Albert Einstein