Pure Lucht
Leadership Lessons Learned by John Lucht

As I started to write this, the Chicago Cubs were preparing to play the MLB Championship Series against the Dodgers. And now, they are IN the World Series! Holy Cow! What, you might ask, does this have to do with leadership and why does it belong on a leadership blog? If I answer honestly, I’ll have to say nothing and it probably doesn’t belong here.

I could figure out a way to weave the importance of leadership into the Cubs' long, hard road back to success and the leadership of their team (e.g. Epstein, Maddon, etc.)

Forty-five years ago today is the day it all started – Joe Smith and Jim Howard created what would become a top CPA firm in both the state and nation. As we reflect on our 45-year journey many things come to mind, but growth has been our biggest reward. We grow stronger together and are proud that our growth hasn’t been in just the traditional sense of revenue or employees (though those have grown significantly). The growth we are proudest of is that of our people. While the number of employees has grown from two to over 100, it is the professional and personal growth of the individuals of Smith &...

This is the third in my series on 10 Qualities of a Leader, taken from a list published by Forbes. In this segment, I’d like to touch on Having a Positive Attitude and Inspiring Others; they are connected and one affects the other. In fact, Wade Boggs, former professional baseball player and Hall of Fame Inductee says, “A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.”

I have days where I am pelted from all sides with problems, challenges and issues that could create a downcast, frustrated or simply tepid approach to my day and to people I am around.  I’m not unique in this...

For the last five years, I've had a new passion. I'm not quite sure of its genesis, but I suspect it was related to a problem I needed to solve that was a bit out of my comfort zone.

Storage space in our home was woefully inefficient for all the mystery boxes and belongings my wife and I had accumulated over the years. Somehow I decided I could master a do-it-yourself project which I was pretty much unqualified to undertake. Imagine our surprise when we actually ended up with functional, attractive shelving in...

Creativity and intuition are probably the two qualities that are the hardest to define but are key to a leader’s success. 

In my last post, I introduced 10 qualities of a leader, as presented by Forbes magazine. The first two that I explored were confidence and communication. In this post, I will cover creativity and intuition.


At Smith & Howard, our values state that we emphasize creativity and imagination in all we do. That might seem like an odd value for CPAs to live by, but putting the challenge out there for each of us to strive for every day definitely sets a high bar for each of us. A leader may not always be the most creative person,...

I recently came across an article on Forbes’ web site that listed and described the top 10 qualities that make a great leader. A link to the full article is at the end of this piece, but I wanted to talk about a few of them here, from my own perspective. The ten qualities from Forbes are:

  1. Honesty
  2. Delegate
  3. Communication
  4. Confidence
  5. Commitment
  6. Positive Attitude
  7. Creativity
  8. Intuition
  9. Inspire
  10. Approach

In this post, I’d like to touch on confidence and communication, as they can be two of the most difficult for leaders to display under trying circumstances, but may be two of the most important with honesty being #1.

Confidence: While it is pretty easy to be confident when things are going...

Are you the leader or the facilitator? There’s nothing wrong with being either one. But if you think you’re a leader and you’re really a facilitator, you need to reexamine your roles and your goals. A leader is most focused on where a group is going, or as blogger John W. Richardson says, “the definition of leadership is to turn around and see if anyone is following you.” I’ve written before about the role of leaders and how everyone is a leader at some point. This post will discuss more about the role of the facilitator and will give you two simple tips that we use at Smith & Howard to get things done more consistently.

A facilitator...

Google is such a great way to see the topics that are trending. If you search for “leading through” topics, you’ll find a bevy of “leading through adversity,” “leading through change,” and “leading through tough times” subjects. You won’t find quite as many results when you search for “leading when successful.”

From my observations, I believe that leading when you are successful provides unique challenges and potential for big stumbles if it isn’t done well. Why? Often, the lack of leadership focus in good times is the result of complacency (Everything is great, let’s just ease back and relax.) or arrogance (We made it! Nothing can stop us now.) Woe to the leader who takes this approach. Learning from your...

I recently returned from a trip to the Agalta Valley in Honduras that I took with the Wilderness Team from Honduras Outreach. One of our purposes was to guide a group of villagers in building and installing water stands that would provide fresh water to the churches, schools and homes of various villages – 114 water stands in all.

On the surface, the project was fairly straightforward and simple: build and paint stands with the locals who would be using them, deliver the stands and train individuals on their use. Of course, the ultimate success of the project was more complex: it depended on the team itself working well together; it depended on our ability to overcome language barriers with the villagers...

Ken Blanchard’s book, The Simple Truths of Service, provides some excellent insights on client service that seem pretty obvious. But like many such insights, what seems obvious is not necessarily consistently practiced. In one part of his book, he says, “No one can make you serve customers well. That’s because great service is a choice.” He’s right, but as simple and clear as that truth is, it can be difficult to put into practice.

As I pondered Blanchard’s statement, I was reminded of something our founding partners, Jim Howard and Joe Smith used to say often: “Clients are the reason for our work, not an interruption of it.” I think perhaps this is the preface to Blanchard’s statement. It...