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Leading An Accounting Firm by Troy Waugh

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12Values: The Character, Actions, and Outcomes

“Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.”

~ DALI LAMA

As I’ve said before in this book, you can manage processes and projects, but you cannot manage people; you must lead people. Leading people is much more than telling or forcing people to do what you want. A prison guard can do that. A good leader creates belief in the mission and values of the firm and will attract people who share those values. When people in a firm share the same values, they behave in acceptable ways without a heavy hand of management. Having a set of shared values is a strong predictor of getting a team to work together successfully.

Values are difficult to understand and espouse. Each person brings his or her own life experience to the discussion of values. For example, one person may have grown up in a family where everyone was very direct and spoke the brutal truth, but another person grew up in a “polite” family environment filled with varying degrees of white lies. Some people view values as standards not to be broken, and others view values as aspirational.

Then, of course, there is the case of the “corporately correct lip service” values where everyone espouses one thing but does another. For example, I see many firms that espouse integrity as a core value then regularly run late on serving each other and their clients. I meet with firms whose partners espouse teamwork but are reluctant to introduce another partner to their clients. ...

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