Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Leadership Is Changing

In talking with CPA leaders, I believe that many are now beginning to understand the difference between push marketing and pull marketing.

Just as marketing activities are changing for CPA firms, so are leadership activities.  Progressive firms have embraced the fact that they must move from Push: Command and Control to Pull: Connect and Collaborate.

Tom Hood shares some great slides on this topic on Slideshare:

Leadership is still about….

  • Engagement
  • Alignment
  • Accountability
  • Commitment

So true. I love the quote Hood uses on this particular slide:

“First I get all of my men facing the same direction.” – – Napoleon

The fall marketing season is coming up, the fall recruiting season is coming up – maybe it’s time to get all your men (and women) facing the same direction.

  • Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
  • Napoleon

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Your Job Is To Listen

As I speak to various CPA profession groups around the country, I almost always ask the audience, “Who has had listening training?” Rarely does a hand go up.

The CPA profession needs better listeners.  Listening is absolutely key to becoming a skilled leader, a leader who people enthusiastically want to follow.

Several years ago I read a book titled, It’s Your Ship – Management Techniques From The Best Damn Ship In The Navy. Recently, I was reviewing some Tom Peters’ material (he is SO generous in sharing all of his material). In the material was the following quote from Michael Abrashoff, the author of the book:

“My education in leadership began in Washington when I was an assistant to Defense Secretary William Perry.

He was universally loved and admired by heads of state … and our own and allied troops. A lot of that was because of the way he listened. Each person who talked to him had his complete, undivided attention. Everyone blossomed in his presence, because he was so respectful, and I realized I wanted to affect people the same way.

“Perry became my role model but that was not enough. Something bigger had to happen, and it did. It was painful to realize how often I just pretended to hear people. How many times had I barely glanced up from my work when a subordinate came into my office? I wasn’t paying attention; I was marking time until it was my turn to give orders. That revelation led me to a new personal goal. I vowed to treat every encounter with every person on Benfold (Abrashoff was the Captain) as the most important thing at that moment. It wasn’t easy, but my crew’s enthusiasm and ideas kept me going.

“It didn’t take me long to realize that my young crew was smart, talented and full of good ideas that usually came to nothing because no one in charge had ever listened to them.

I decided that my job was to listen aggressively …”—Mike Abrashoff, It’s Your Ship:  Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy


  • Give me performance over seniority any day of the week.
  • Mike Abrashoff

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Are You Fit To Lead?

photoBe sure to read an article in the Illinois CPA Society Insight Magazine by Derrick Lilly titled, Are You Fit to Lead? I feel honored to be quoted in parts of the article.

The article urges you to take a look at yourself. Look into the mirror.

“Comfort kills,” says Jody Michael, founder and CEO of career coaching firm Jody Michael Associates. “There’s such rapid change in this day and age that it’s imperative that leaders have the ability to shift perspectives, take in multiple points of reference, and make changes with nimbleness, agility and fluidity. You have to keep growing and developing, and shaping and crafting your lens and your capacity to lead; you never stop looking in the mirror.”

I usually find that nimbleness, agility and fluidity are not common words that describe leadership inside accounting firms.

Here’s how you get in leadership shape (follow the link above to read the entire article and explanation of each of these points):

  1. Get a healthy dose of objectivity
  2. Boost your E.I. factor
  3. Stretch your world view
  4. Train as a generational guru

“It used to be that leadership was about command and control, but today there’s a clear evolution into partnerships, collaboration and two-way dialogue as the means to leadership,” says Dr. Todd Dewett

Dr. Dewett finds feedback hilarious because it is one of the most useful things there is, and it’s also one of the most passionately avoided things there is in a professional life. He urges leaders to find two interesting people who are not afraid of you, who know you as a person and as a professional, and are willing to give you unfiltered, real feedback.

  • Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.
  • Brian Tracy

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Book Week Friday – Five Dysfunctions of a Team

When I first read Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, I thought to myself…. It is just like this was written specifically for accountants. It wasn’t, although several firms have embraced it and worked through the exercises as a leadership group.  There is a companion guide titled, Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Here are the five dysfunctions:


The foundation is Absence of Trust. I believe that trust is the skeleton in the closet of many CPA firms. Has the following statement (or one very similar) been uttered inside your partner group?

“I know Joe is trying to do more financial planning with our clients, but you know Joe. I’m afraid my client won’t like him and I might lose the client because Joe just doesn’t focus enough on detail.”

I just want you to begin by working on the 2 foundational dysfunctions – Absence of Trust and Fear of Conflict. Absence of trust is when team members are not comfortable being vulnerable, open and honest with each other.  The next dysfunction of a team, if there is no trust, is Fear of Conflict, because people on a team should be comfortable engaging in good, healthy conflict around ideas. This is one I see again and again during partner retreats and partner meetings. There might be one partner who will say, “I’ll play Devil’s advocate here….” and voice their opinion. Most of the other partners say NOTHING and even avoid eye contact by looking at their laps!

Take a few minutes to watch this video by the author, Patrick Lencioni:

Thanks for reading all my posts during “Book Week” and happy reading.

Monday – Why Must There Be Dragons

Tuesday – Lean In

Wednesday – True Professionalism

Thursday – Leadership and Self-DeceptionPhoto on 5-20-13 at 7.33 AM

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Book Week Thursday – Leadership and Self-Deception – Do You Have A Problem?

Photo on 5-20-13 at 7.31 AMToday, I would like to recommend a book that maybe you are not as familiar with as some of the others I recommend. When I first read Leadership and Self-Deception, I was amazed and it opened my eyes to many behaviors that I had never explored before. It also opened my eyes to what others often did in the workplace (and in home life) that they don’t even think about.

I don’t often re-read a book. I have read this one 3 times over the years and given copies to people working on their leadership skills.

From the book:

Self-betrayal – An act contrary to what I feel I should do for another is called an act of “self-betrayal.”

Self-betrayal is the most common thing in the world, Tom,” Kate added, in an easy manner. “Let me give you a few examples.”

You are in bed and you hear the baby cry at 1:00 a.m. You should get up and tend to the baby but you pretend you are asleep and wait for your wife to hear the baby.

You jump on the elevator, in a hurry, an see a man hurrying to get aboard but you just let the door close. You have the immediate sense, I should have caught the door for him but I didn’t.

Maybe it’s a time when you felt you should apologize to someone but never got around to it.

There was a time when you had some information that would be very helpful to a co-worker but you didn’t share it.

They are all examples of self-betrayal, times when I had a sense of something I should do for others but didn’t do it.

Here’s a short video setting the stage for reading the book.

The book focuses on a problem. As Bud says to Tom, “You have a problem. The people at work know it; your spouse knows it; your mother-in-law knows it. I bet even your neighbors know it. The problem is that YOU don’t know it.”

  • I focused on and inflated her faults when I needed to feel justified for mine.
  • from Leadership and Self-Deception

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

CPA Consultants’ Alliance – Infographic

infographicI am a member of the CPA Consultants’ Alliance. It is a group of consultants focused on the CPA profession who are collaborating to enhance leadership throughout the accounting profession.

We have developed our first infographic based on the valuable insights we shared from our 2012 leadership survey and white paper.

To see the entire graphic, check it out in Accounting Today. In the AToday article there are also comments on leadership from all the CPACA members.

  • Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.
  • John D. Rockefeller

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Getting To Know Your Future Partners

jenJennifer Wilson, partner and co-founder of ConvergenceCoaching, has a great article in the AICPA CPA Insider. She asks, “How well do you know your future partners?”

Wilson and I are both members of the CPA Consultants’ Alliance that published a white paper last year CPA Firm Leadership: Communication Drives New Possibilities that address leadership development in light of the impending staff shortage.

Wilson not only writes about the challenges the CPA profession faces, she offers valuable suggestions on how to address the issue inside your own firm. She encourages firm leaders to explore “the 12 questions to ask so that you can better know our future partners.”

Here are her 12 questions (but be sure to follow read her How Well Do You Know Your Future Partners Article):

  • What do you envision for your career in one year? How about in three years? What do you most want to achieve in your career?
  • What do you view as your strengths or gifts?
  • What do you most like to do in your position right now?
  • What would you most like to try doing based on what you’ve seen in the work you’ve observed?
  • What do you like least in your position right now? Why? What would you like to see changed in your role as a result of this?
  • What skills do you want to develop to further succeed in your role with the firm?
  • What other skills are you interested in acquiring that are not directly related to your current job?
  • What more can I (the shepherd), your manager, or the firm do to improve your job or assist you in being more successful?
  • What other areas of the firm are you interested in learning about?
  • What questions do you have about your career and its progression that we can answer for you?
  • What should I know about you personally? What do you want to know about me personally?
  • What else would you like to discuss?


  • People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.
  • John C. Maxwell

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

You Can Be A Better Leader

If you are a CPA in Ohio or working in a CPA firm anywhere in the country, there is always great information in the OSCPA CPA Voice magazine.

Be sure to read my article in the Public Practice section – Improving Your Management & Leadership Ability.  No matter how many years experience you have in public accounting, you can still improve your skills and change some of those not-so-great behaviors! Thanks to Amy Johnson and other Society team members for allowing me to be a resource to the Society.

The December issue is special because it is the last issue with Clarke Price as CEO of the Ohio Society of CPAs. He arrived “on the doorstep” over 40 years ago and has been CEO since 1990. Whether you are an Ohio member or not, you’ll benefit from his reflection commentary – As I see it: Looking back & looking forward.

If you are a member of the Ohio Society (or if you are not) consider contributing to the Clarke Price Accounting Scholarship Endowment, set-up by the Ohio CPA Foundation as a way to honor Clarke and to serve as a perpetual source of financial support for students who may not be at the top of their class but demonstrate the drive and passion to complete their accounting degree and become successful CPAs. You can contribute online by visiting the Ohio Society website.

Today’s quotation is also special because it certainly describes Clarke Price and so many of the other wonderful CPA leaders I have met through my travels around the country. You could almost use it as a job description for your firm’s next managing partner.


  • Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.
  • Colin Powell

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Announcing the Formation of The CPA Consultants’ Alliance

As a founding member, I am pleased to announce the formation of The CPA Consultants’ Alliance (CPACA).

CPACA is a newly formed alliance of well-known consultants to the CPA profession that will bring shared thought leadership on the future of the profession to its leaders and emerging leaders.

CPACA’s main purpose is to explore leadership issues facing the profession and develop and share solutions that benefit practitioners. Our vision is to inspire positive change in the CPA profession by collaboratively developing tools and content that will educate, motivate and increase the wisdom of current and future leaders.

Our members are successful consultants within the CPA profession. The expertise represented includes CPA firm:

  • strategic and succession planning
  • leadership and management
  • growth, sales and marketing
  • information technology
  • human resources
  • coaching
  • mergers and acquisitions
  • diversity
  • leadership development and more

In the coming months, CPACA will release a research study and commentary focused on the CPA profession’s opportunities and challenges as well as future leadership in the accounting profession. This deliverable is based on a survey of more than 750 CPAs and combines research and findings on leadership best practices. This whitepaper will be the first of many tools and resources we will provide to the profession to encourage positive and innovative change.

For more information about CPACA, its members and to stay connected with us, please:

Contact us via our website.

Connect with us on iShade.

  • Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
  • Helen Keller

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

We’ll Wait Them Out – We’re Younger

I actually heard the phrase used in today’s title when younger (30-something) CPAs were talking about the 50 or 60-something CPAs. It was several years ago.

Now what I am hearing is, “We’re tired of waiting.” Hopefully, younger CPAs are on the move and making things happen.

There’s a good article in the Journal of Accountancy – June 2012 – titled, Generation Next. It notes that a wave of new CPA leaders is on the rise, and accounting will never be the same.

The first sentence in the article scares me – – “The next couple of decades will see massive change for the accounting profession.”

It is certainly not the change that bothers me, it’s the fact that some people think it’s going to take two decades. Oh my, I hope not.

I am anticipating that the younger crowd are making strides and noise that will cause change before another 20 years go by.

Advice for young CPAs. If you are reading this and are not a “young CPA” please forward the link to this blog to those 30-something CPAs in your firm.

  • Act in ways that true leaders do, develop skills that show leadership.
  • If you, as a young CPA, are seeking leadership positions, don’t be afraid to speak-up.  Ask for more responsibilities and set high expectations for yourself.
  • Be sure you are networking. Do you belong to a YP group? Don’t have one in your area? Then start one.
  • Use social media to build your professional reputation.
  • Communication skills are key – verbal and non-verbal. How good are you at making a presentation, facilitating a discussion, or writing a blog? Remember the non-verbal – what kind of first impression do you make?

I am hoping the Results Only Work Environment becomes widespread. Here’s what Jason Blumer says about it:

As we’re hiring younger people in our firms, we’re experimenting with a results-only work environment (ROWE), where we’re bringing on new employees, giving them the vision for the position, coaching them through the process of realizing what we and our customers need, and then letting them manage what the results look like for them.

We have no performance reviews. We don’t have dress codes. You don’t have to work in the office. Leadership is really more about coaching now and helping employees be successful, pushing them toward what their strengths are. We’re hiring people so self-motivated that they’re able to run their own departments.

  • The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt