Looking Toward the Future: Developing Leaders in the Construction Industry
Dec 05,2016
Many people start construction businesses because they want to control their own destinies. They’re willing to work hard and put in long hours, knowing their efforts will directly influence their companies’ success and their own financial rewards. Some are inspired and mentored by business owners they’d worked for earlier; others go out on their own to escape incompetent or oppressive managers.Whatever the impetus was for starting your construction business, you need skilled leadership to make it prosper and grow. And this necessity doesn’t pertain only to you as company owner. To build a sustainable enterprise over the long term, owners must develop leaders within the employee ranks — people who can take on increasing responsibilities and thrive.As the industry continues to struggle with a shortage of skilled workers, as well as the ongoing loss of retiring Baby Boomers, your construction company’s long-term profitability may depend on the efficacy of its...
Holy Cow!
Oct 24,2016
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.) I could talk about what a never-say-quit approach means when it comes to players, management and fans…how being without a World Series appearance since 1945 (or a win since 1908) affects management decisions in ways that are sometimes good, but sometimes desperately bad. And how when there’s finally success after such a long drought,...
Qualities of Leaders: Having a Positive Attitude and Inspiring Others
Aug 30,2016
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 – my guess is when you read that last sentence, you said, ‘Hey, that happens to me, too. It’s not just you, John!” A leader – whether it’s a leader of a business,...
Leading Through Leisure: How a Hobby Can Build a Stronger Career
Aug 10,2016
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 our home.OK, I admit to being pretty smug about that success, but thinking back, it was the process of transformation that launched my interest. There's something about the feel and the smell of the wood, the stress of frequent failures and adapting to them, and the pleasure of a finished project that has gotten me hooked on woodworking....
Are You The Leader or The Facilitator?
May 31,2016
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 helps the group reach the goals. Inherent in the role of facilitator is project and time management. The facilitator is all about getting things done. As that same blogger said about facilitators, “If...
The Leadership Institute: “An Amazing Experience”
May 25,2016
Smith & Howard’s 10th Annual Leadership Institute for Accounting Students was held July 16-17, 2015. Event attendees included 19 accounting students and 13 professors from colleges and universities from around the Southeast.  The day and a half event included Day in the Life panel discussions, team building exercises, networking, dinner, a strength assessment, Becker CPA exam tips and a Q&A lunch panel with partners, managers and staff from Smith & Howard.  Students also enjoyed a tour of our office with views 16 stories above the new Mercedes-Benz stadium that is under construction, the Skyview ferris wheel and views of the Midtown, Buckhead and Downtown skylines. Students who attended said the Leadership Institute was “an amazing experience: and that the “knowledge gained was invaluable”.  Several students indicated that through this experience, they were able to clearly see that accounting was the right career path for them and were able to determine if...
Part Two: Strong and Courageous: One Woman’s Nontraditional Path to Chief Financial Officer
Mar 08,2016
The following is part two of a two-part article written by David Lee, CPA of Smith & Howard from an interview he had with Julie Ray, the CFO of Mount Paran Christian School.Mount Paran Christian School has seen explosive growth over the last 15 years. Managing this growth requires great leadership skills and a sincere passion for the mission of the organization. Julie Ray entered her position with the school in the midst of the great things that were happening at the school. From day one, she was “drinking from the firehose,” learning independent education business operations.Julie’s first few years with the school were very much a trial by fire.As we discussed in part 1 of this article, she did not have traditional accounting training. First, she had to get a more in-depth understanding of accounting. She had a working business knowledge she had gained along with that which she...
Strong and Courageous: One Woman’s Non-Traditional Path to Chief Financial Officer (Part One)
Mar 08,2016
The following is part one of a two-part article written by David Lee, CPA of Smith & Howard from an interview he had with Julie Ray, the CFO of Mount Paran Christian School.While attending the Midsouth Independent School Business Officer’s (MISBO) New Business Officer Intensive in 2013, I participated in a session presented by Julie Ray, CFO for Mount Paran Christian School (MPCS).  During the session, Julie told the story of her career.  Her story – that of following an unusual route to becoming a CFO – was a great one.Fast forward two years…Smith & Howard now serves the audit needs of MPCS and I have the pleasure of working with Julie.As part of my leadership training, I am tasked with interviewing one of my clients about their career and reporting back to my leadership guide about what I learned.  I immediately knew Julie’s story was the one that I...
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...
Leadership Lessons: Let Them Play Their Symphony
Jun 02,2015
I am very pleased to present a guest post by Steve McCullough. I have known and worked with Steve as a client for over 8 years.  We have a common interest – Georgia Gwinnett College – where I serve on the Foundation Finance Committee and Steve is an accounting instructor. As you’ll understand when you read Steve’s post, he is a natural teacher and extends his passion for teaching beyond the walls of a classroom to every employee at every level of the companies he works with. (John Lucht)Let Them Play Their SymphonyI’ve never been one to ever consider myself successful in my career, but I guess I would have to say that since I’ve somehow worked for 32 plus years with some amazing companies and have had the opportunity to do so many interesting and satisfying jobs, I must be doing something right.  I guess the reason that I...

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