Pure Lucht
Leadership Lessons Learned by John Lucht

I came across a list of "15 Things Leaders Need to Know" in INSIDE Public Accounting, a national accounting journal. This list was from Mark Sanborn, a best selling author (The Fred Factor) and noted authority on leadership. Since I just recently posted my own thoughts about what it meant to be a leader, I thought the perspective of Mark Sanborn would be a good addition. Here are Sanborn's 15 Things Leaders Need to Know:

  1. Leading is harder than being a leader. Many aspire to be leaders only to find out that doing leadership is challenging.
  2. If you don't have compelling reasons to lead, you won't last as a leader.
  3. If it benefits only you, it is ambition, not leadership.
  4. ...

So you want to be a leader. Where do you start? One thing is for sure: no one proclaims you a leader and poof! you’re a leader. Instead, leadership begins in one place – with you. It is not the responsibility of your boss to “make” you a leader. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from my career:

Don’t wait. Don’t wait for others to tell you what, why or how. Instead, articulate your goals and vision then gather and collaborate with a team of people who have an equally committed stake in the success of the project or the company and begin to lead them forward.

Build a shared purpose and vision. Leaders are able to build a...

I recently took a family vacation with my wife, Dianne, and my two adult children, Elizabeth and Daniel and their significant others: a once-in-a-lifetime, three-week safari in the southernmost African countries of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

While sleeping among wild elephants and leopards, riding elephants, walking with grown lions and navigating mokoras (canoes) among hippos and crocodiles, we trusted our lives to our guides – complete strangers. It was an amazing and exhilarating experience, but it also created a lightning bolt moment for me. It takes a long time to gain the trust of clients and coworkers; why did my family and I so easily put our lives in the hands of these strangers?

My conclusion: we were...

As part of Smith & Howard University, we host an employee book club once a quarter. The book discussions give employees at all levels an opportunity to provide feedback on the selected book and to provide illustrations of how the principles of the book apply, or should apply, in our day-to-day work environment. This quarter’s selected book was Whale Done!, by Ken Blanchard. A short but effective read, Whale Done! provides insightful tips on accentuating the positive to build employee confidence and morale. He talks about the difference between the GOTcha approach (catching people doing things wrong) and the Whale Done! approach (catching people doing things right). Four of the top tips for achieving this are:

  1. Praise immediately
  2. Be specific
  3. ...

We constantly focus on leadership development and what leadership means at Smith & Howard. Sometimes, we lose sight of the larger picture of leadership – what it looks like on a day to day basis. In this powerful video by Drew Dudley, a leadership educator, viewers are reminded that leadership is not something we are going to deserve “one day.” Rather, leadership often comes in moments, or lollipop moments, as he calls them. In Dudley’s experience, the biggest impact he ever had on anyone’s life was a moment he can’t even remember. I highly recommend watching this six minute video and thinking about the ways others have influenced your life and vice versa.

Finding Balance While In Organized Chaos I started my construction business April, 1988. My wife and I were broke with two young kids. I had worked for both large and small contractors. My wife and I decided we were so broke that we had nothing to lose, so, we might as well give it a shot. Well 25 years later, we are still in business. The journey of 25 years in business is where I learned the importance of balance.

First balance means a lot of things for different people. Some people think it means giving equal time to business, family, personal and religion. What I learned is that you can rarely give equal time to everything in your life. Also, the unexpected will...

For the third consecutive year, Smith & Howard had the honor of being recognized by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of the Top 100 Workplaces in the region. Companies on this list are determined by results of a confidential survey of employees – this year, over 49,000 metro area employees completed surveys.

Landing on this list for three straight years is a direct reflection on the commitment we have to providing an environment that is both challenging and rewarding for our employees and one that consistently reflects our values and culture. We sincerely care about the well-being of our employees and strive to provide them with an exceptional workplace, never losing sight of the other priorities in our statement of purpose,...

Since 2006, Smith & Howard has hosted an annual event for accounting students: The Leadership Institute. Each year, students from southeastern colleges and universities apply to be part of this multi-day event. Those who are selected get an inside perspective at a career with a public accounting firm and an opportunity to further develop their personal leadership skills.

Aimed at students who have displayed exceptional leadership qualities, our program provides various sessions to help with the transition of student to employee. Some of the topics that my colleagues and I cover include: Networking, Finding a Job in a Down Economy, Transition from Academics to Work Experience, Differentiating Yourself in an Interview, Team Building, Identifying Your Strengths, and What it Takes...

In this interview, I answer some questions about the challenges encountered and lessons learned when I transitioned into a leadership role that had been held for 40 years by my predecessor. I believe these succession lessons are valuable across all industries.

John Lucht

In my recent review of the book Getting Naked, I said the book emphasizes that the foundation of any relationship is trust and that trust can be developed by being vulnerable and operating outside your comfort zone. Smith & Howard employees put this theory to a true test recently – with each other. We all found ourselves vulnerable and operating outside our comfort zones – sometimes way outside our comfort zones. Let me explain.

Each year, our group of managers develops a project that benefits the firm and its employees. Last year, their project was a leadership and team building exercise. This group decided to truly test our trust in each other and uncover new leaders in the process. Leaderpalooza...