A Closer Look at the Top 10 Qualities of a Great Leader
Jun 30,2016
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:HonestyDelegateCommunicationConfidenceCommitmentPositive AttitudeCreativityIntuitionInspireApproachIn 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 as planned, it is equally easy to lose that confidence with plans go awry. As in any situation – business or personal – unexpected turns of events can make even the most stalwart individual find reasons to doubt their original plan. As...
The Extra Mile
Feb 12,2016
We are often reminded (and usually by someone in charge) that if we want to succeed, we have to “go the extra mile.” While this is true, I have found that an extra mile looks very different from person to person. As with any other clichéd instruction, clarification and a mutual understanding of what the extra mile means is critically important for success. As a leader, you have some pretty strong responsibility on the front end to define and guide that “extra mile” and to help others understand what an extra mile looks like to you.Culture is the foundation. You should already have created a culture that sets a high standard for quality, whether it is quality in product development, creativity, service or professionalism. Your high standards – as part of the overall company culture – are not part of going the extra mile. Those things are the mandatory miles. Teaching...
Patience, Perseverance and Conflict: Lessons From Anne Frank
Jun 22,2015
Leaders come in all shapes, sizes and from all walks of life. Their experiences and paths to leadership are as varied as their histories. And many leaders, as I’ve discussed in previous posts, are atypical leaders. They don’t lead companies or divisions or departments. Sometimes, as in the case of Anne Frank, they lead by saying what others can’t or won’t say and often in daunting circumstances. That Anne Frank did so beginning at the young age of 13 is impressive. And that her set of circumstances were the worst that humanity have seen make it all the more remarkable.Along with her family, Anne spent most days – from 8:30 in the morning until after 5 in the evening – in near utter silence. An outgoing girl, she struggled more than others with the cramped space, confined schedule and inability to be expressive. Hence the diary. It was a way...
Bully Bosses (More on Leaders as Tillers vs. Bulldozers)
May 08,2015
A recent article in Accounting Today talked about “Bully Bosses.” This ties directly to my earlier post about leaders who are either bulldozers or tillers and applies to all businesses, not just accounting firms. The article’s author lists a series of questions for leaders to ask themselves to find out if they may be viewed as a bully leader.  For starters:Do I…1. See my employees look at their shoes when I ask for input?2. Notice that my employees are anxious when I enter the room?3. Find that employees avoid me or act guarded around me?The full article is here.  
Not Everyone is a Leader. Or Are They?
May 03,2015
As I thought about this topic, I did what I usually do when I need a kick-start for writing a post: I Googled it. My Google search term was “not everyone is a leader.” As you see from the screenshot below, that search brought up 111 million (yes, million) results. That told me two things. 1) The topic had been well covered and I was probably wasting my time; and 2) I found myself disagreeing with my own topic after I reviewed many of the articles I read.Here’s my perspective. At Smith & Howard, we have about 100 people. We have quite a few official leaders: leaders of departments, leaders of committees, and of course my role as leader of the firm. Do we expect “everyone” to be able to assume one of these leadership roles at some point in the future? Certainly not. Not only is not everyone capable...
Leaders Are Tillers, Not Bulldozers
Apr 02,2015
The dictionary defines a bulldozer as a “large, powerful tractor having a vertical blade at the front end for moving earth, tree, stumps, rocks, etc.” It also defines it as a person who “intimidates or coerces.”A tiller, on the other hand, is a machine or person that labors, “as by plowing upon the land for the raising of crops and to cultivate.”I could probably stop this post without further elaboration and readers would understand why one illustrates a true leader and the other doesn’t. But if it were that simple, there wouldn’t have been any readers who said to themselves, “Yeah. I am (or my boss is) a bulldozer.”I think there are lessons in the two examples for current leaders and those who aspire to be leaders. Let me explain.Picture a bulldozer, whose job is to muscle its way through dirt, rocks and anything in its way to get to...

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