leadership

Immediate remote opportunity for part-time CPA with growing firm.

7029932 - opportunity, just ahead green road sign with copy room over the dramatic clouds and sky.

 

This is about getting the right people on the right seats on the bus a la Jim Collins. Or maybe getting new bus drivers. Or getting Jim Collins a bus. Whatever, it won’t hurt you to contact us.

McNeely & McNeely CPAs, P.L.L.C., a growing East Texas firm, is seeking immediate part time help with tax preparation. You can work remotely from anywhere, anytime using our digital systems (if you have some bars of service).

Desired qualifications include:

  • CPA licensed in Texas; being in good standing is definitely a plus;
  • Three to five years of experience preparing and reviewing individual and business returns;
  • Proficiency with ProSeries, Excel, QuickBooks (desktop and on-line), yada yada;
  • Friendly, people-first approach; (It helps to have a sense of humor around here.)
  • Comfortable with virtual office functions—business casual on top, pajamas on bottom for video meetings;
  • Organized, accurate, detail-oriented, and—shockingly, able to thrive under deadlines.

Responsibilities include:

  • Prepare 1040, 1120, 1120S, & 1065 from digital records;
  • Review 1040s prepared by others;
  • Interact with our office manager and clients to get information and answers;
  • Tax research;
  • Work with the IRS to resolve client tax issues; able to multi-task while listening to “set-your-teeth-on-edge” hold music for hours.

Compensation:

  • The standard “pay commensurate” line is applicable, but not helpful to a first glance. Since this is per diem work the range is $30 to $50 per hour—depending, and so forth and so on.

Opportunity:

We are a Father / Son firm with tax, virtual back-office accounting, and consulting clients. Using technology, we serve a variety of clients at different locations – all from the East Texas Woods. (Yes, we have Internet – Fiber Optic, even.) With the Senior partner having long since lost sight of retirement age in the rear-view mirror, there is an opportunity for the right person to grow his or her position with the firm.

We have crafted a contrarian bean-counting firm culture – where family comes first and work-life balance is a thing, not a slogan.

If interested, please send a resume’ and three references that are not your Mom to our office manager, Cathy Jones at cathy.jones@mcneelyandmcneely.com

We are an equal opportunity employer.

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So Your Culture is Hospitable to Innovation? Here’s One Simple Test to Be Sure.

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“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

Before his deforming encounter with acid, Batman’s Joker (the Jack Nicholson flavor) was preening in front of the mirror and his girlfriend (the Jerry Hall version) says, “You look fine.” He turns, raises an already famously arched eyebrow and says, “I didn’t ask.”

This honest approach would serve many organizations who claim to have a culture that supports innovation, but really don’t. They ask, but don’t change anything. This is frustrating and discouraging to those souls who can’t help themselves and must look for new, fresh ways to grow. And, failure to innovate may lead to a protracted organizational illness (see John Wooden).

There are many moving parts to a creativity engine such as: championing leaders, outside the box listeners, seed time and money, obstacle steamroller, and bureaucracy flattener. These and other parts should be recognized and measured.

But there is one simple test you and I can use to see if we truly are working to bring positive change.

List below the last five intelligent failures you have celebrated.

  1. __________________________________________________
  2. __________________________________________________
  3. __________________________________________________
  4. __________________________________________________
  5. __________________________________________________

Trouble completing the test? Then your organization is probably stuck in some important and potentially disastrous ways.

Here are a few quotes to inspire us to get on with the failures so we can succeed.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

 

 

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15 Things I want my Grandkids to Know about Leadership

True, godly leadership—in any context—is inspiring another person to reach for his or her potential.

  1. Why they must forever study and work to be accomplished leaders and managers.
  2. Why Christ-like servant leadership is always best—period.
  3. How to be creative, bold, visionary.
  4. Why culture is so powerful; how to create and maintain a healthy, nourishing culture.
  5. To understand themselves, other personality types and nationalities to create teamwork.
  6. That their personal example is the most powerful way to influence others so they must demonstrate spiritual and emotional maturity, trustworthiness, and competence.
  7. About the complexities of human motivation; how to tap into their own and help others to become highly self-motivated.
  8. That, as leaders, they hold the precious potential of other people in their hands and have a sacred stewardship responsibility to detect, develop, and deploy the gifts and talents of others.
  9. That they need a variety of leadership tools and should thoughtfully choose how to act in different situations.
  10. That their leadership role should always include coaching to help others grow and succeed over the long haul (and to resolve conflict positively).
  11. How important it is to communicate (write and speak) effectively so their messages are timely, appropriate, powerful, understood, and acted upon.
  12. That humans really learn by doing so they must share opportunities and skillfully delegate to develop others.
  13. That crafting clear, measurable organizational and personal goal statements are a powerful way to ratchet up performance and invoke mature, self-accountability.
  14. They must persevere for their job will never be finished
  15. They don’t need a formal position to lead. True, godly leadership—in any context—is inspiring another person to reach for his or her potential.
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It is Difficult to Scan the Horizon When Examining a Mole’s Rear

When should we have our head in a tiny mammal’s tunnel and when should we float in the clouds in a small basket suspended from a potential fireball?

I’ve noticed this interesting phenomenon. Succeeding generations of leaders, managers, and volunteer boards seem impelled to make a mark by undoing previous work, adding layers of bureaucracy, or drilling down to examine sub-atomic particles. (To understand “making a mark,” see Wikipedia about our now deceased and sorely missed poodler, I mean, poodle, Mr. Bigelsworth.) There might be a time for such (although developing a form that is always approved without thought and fed to the file’s gaping maw is never attractive to my way of thinking.)

The trick, to me, is perspective. It is difficult to get a bird’s eye view of the horizon when examining a mole’s rear. Conversely, one cannot pull dangerous weeds out of the garden from a hot air balloon—even with a Ronco Inspector Gadget arm.

When should we have our head in a tiny mammal’s tunnel and when should we float in the clouds in a small basket suspended from a potential fireball? (It is not on my bucket list to travel with a bag of gas and a lit flame. My compliments to those who do.) Tough question. One thing for sure—we should never get stuck just doing one or the other.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves if our probing or drifting will make a contribution to improving organizational performance or if it is window dressing. The benefits should outweigh the costs. In the accounting world, the concept of materiality takes into account context and flirts with gushy notions like relativity. (Not the Einstein version, the beancounter version.)

This is the struggle of the ages for the finicky “detailist.” It means there is no set rule. It means $1,000 could be material and $1,000,000 could be immaterial – depending on context. (Make no mistake, I love me some good finicky detailists all the livelong day. Please don’t eyeball it on structural engineering or wing it on airplane design – get it? Wing it…)

Anyway, what is wanted is a bit of judgment. An Accounts Payable manager who worked on my team years ago had a small paper taped to her giant, alien-head shaped monitor. It said, “Will it matter in 10,000 years?” If the context is I forgot to pay a bill and got a late charge the answer is always “No!”

For us how about: Will my mark—whatever it is—make a measurable, positive difference to all concerned? Is it material—meaning the benefit is greater than the cost? If yes, proceed. If no, maybe dial it back and rethink.

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Unleashing Diverse Talent while Working in Glorious Harmony: Key Elements

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In the hopes of inspiring further study of a complex topic, here are some keys to engaging and motivating creative people to produce their best work—in unity:

  1. See the future. Build a grand vision and work tirelessly until it is shared.
  2. Get bold. Set crazy-hard-to-reach goals and allow for groundbreaking initiatives.
  3. Paint targets. Negotiate and agree on outcomes and how to measure results.
  4. Share the wealth. Construct and publicize reward systems (it’s not always money) that are based on personal accountability and team success.
  5. Be Radar O’Reilly. Embrace the role of supplying resources and being a resource-on-call.
  6. Party on, Wayne! Celebrate the freedom to fail and try again. If people aren’t making mistakes they’re not trying hard enough.
  7. Sit on the bench. Let the players play the game, but capitalize on the occasional teachable moment by coaching.

 

Learning to lead effectively is a lifelong commitment. I hope this helps you want to learn and practice more.

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Death of a Level-Five Leader

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The world is largely unaware that it lost an important leader this week. 

 

L. Leroy Neff ended his 90-year race as he deserved—with dignity and surrounded by his devoted children, Larry, Don, and Carol.

I am privileged to know the Neff family because I married into it—sort of. Larry’s wife, Linda, and my wife, Mary, are sisters.

To tell the inspiring tale of Leroy and his wife of over 60 years, Maxine, would take a book. So he wrote an autobiography for his family, which I read with great interest. It is a classic American story of modest beginnings in Oregon, military service, performing as a classically trained cellist, and a life changing call to serve Jesus Christ.

That call led Leroy and Maxine to Southern California where they started a life of service on something less than a shoestring. It wasn’t long before Leroy was ordained a minister and promoted to a series of expanding leadership positions in a fast-growing church organization.

His responsibilities, which ranged from Church Pastor to Treasurer of a worldwide work, took Leroy and Maxine around the globe—several times. They loved to travel almost as much as they loved their family. Leroy was a successful and admired leader.

Why? Was it his flamboyant, charismatic personality? No, Leroy was a quiet leader although he possessed the most beautiful, deep, resonant, and unmistakable speaking voice.  Was it that he was a super-genius, flitting from project to project like a bee on crack? No, Leroy was highly intelligent, but admittedly a plodder who moved in a purposeful straight line until the job was done.

Why? There were, at least, three qualities of character that powered Leroy to continually succeed while many around him blasted off and flamed out.

  1. His integrity, anchored to deep religious convictions, was unimpeachable.
  2. He was utterly faithful, enjoying promotions and suffering setbacks with equanimity.
  3. He was a humble man—period.

 

I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with Mr. Neff after they retired to East Texas and especially after Maxine died some years ago and the lonely times began. Mary and I will miss the great family gatherings at Thanksgiving.

My Dad, Melton, and I will also miss our lunches with him. Just three weeks ago Mary, Carol–then his caregiver, and I shared lunch with Mr. Neff in his home. Although frail, his memory was sharp, his mind was clear, and he still managed a wry riposte to my good-natured teases.

When Lester Leroy Neff died late Tuesday night, the world lost a legitimate level five leader. It was a sad, sad day—the end of an era. Yet, when Christ returns, it will be the beginning of another one; a glorious era for an honest, faithful, humble saint.

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12 Things About Great Coaches

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I love Daniel Goleman’s article, Leadership That Gets Results (March-April, 2000 Harvard Business Review). You should re-read it. Goleman teaches about six leadership styles, but his take on coaching really resonates with me now.

“Although the coaching style may not scream ‘bottom-line resuts,’ it delivers them.” – Daniel Goleman

I am blessed to moderate an upcoming event sponsored by the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce about building great teams. The accomplished and highly-successful panelists are Walter Merrill, Tom Slone, and former NBA coach Del Harris. After meeting these men last week, I am very impressed with all of them, but have long been a fan of coach Harris thinking his courtside manner to be stately and dignified. (Stay tuned for more details about this event and the distinguished panel.)

Since teambuilding is on my mind, here is an excerpt from a column I wrote many years ago:

To cultivate a healthy, nourishing culture, leaders and managers have to be great coaches.

  • Great Coaches were (are) first good players.
  • Great Coaches demonstrate the correct way to do things by example.
  • Great Coaches are excellent teachers.
  • Great Coaches constantly help their players to drill, practice, and rehearse realizing it takes 25 times of doing something right to put it into “muscle memory.”
  • Great Coaches creatively craft “game-like” situations to provide relevant learning opportunities.
  • Great Coaches understand that to really develop others they have to sit on the sidelines and let the players play the game.
  • Great Coaches view mistakes as opportunities to learn—not as failure. They aren’t afraid to properly (and privately) correct their player’s mistakes on the spot.
  • Great Coaches are always looking for any sign of positive improvement and are liberal with their praise.
  • Great Coaches are master motivators and tailor their approach for each individual player and for each unique situation.
  • Great Coaches get more out of their players than the players themselves ever thought was possible.

“Admittedly, there is a paradox on coachings’ positive effect on business performance because coaching focuses primarily on personal development, not on immediate work-related tasks. Even so, coaching improves results. The reason: it requires constant dialogue, and that dialogue has a way of pushing up every driver of climate [culture].” –Goleman

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4 Leadership Lessons Learned from Mom

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My Mom is a very special person. Here is a taste of what I learned from her.
The ability to make others laugh is almost as important as the ability to laugh at oneself.
  • There is a personal cost for putting others first.

Other than her faith, there has never been anything more important to Mom than caring for her family. Sometimes that is so difficult that a price has to be paid.

Calling oneself a servant leader without sacrificing for another person is false advertising. We have to put our money (and soul) where our mouth is.

  • Commitment and faithfulness are beautiful virtues that reap bountiful blessings.

57 years of marriage, a gaggle of grandkids, and four great grand children bring Mom and Dad more happiness than anything else in this life could.

Where do our kids see the value of loyalty today? They don’t. It is buried under a pile of personal ambition and lost in the game of hopscotch-resume’-builder.

Now is a great opportunity to be seen as a rare leader, a contrarian who sticks with people to the end.

  • Make your bed before you go to school.

After kidding myself for years that I knew where everything was in the piles of paper on my desk and floor I have embarked on a journey to become OCD organized. You know what? Even for sloppy, creative work being neat and orderly is to be more productive.

And that leaves more time for that precious and underused leadership task—thinking.

  • A sense of humor is a powerful ally.

The ability to make others laugh is almost as important as the ability to laugh at oneself. Mom loves to laugh.

Finding the humor in our daily endeavors helps keep leaders grounded and human. Superman and Batman (except for Micheal Keaton) don’t laugh or make us laugh.

Thank you, Mom! I love you.

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McNeely Family Improves Golf (v.2.1.3-5)

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Winston Churchill said golf is a game whose aim is to hit a small ball into an even smaller hole with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.

Since Dad and I play golf a couple of times a year—whether we need to or not—it has become necessary for us to improve the game so we can finish before our wives report us as missing persons.

Golf: Seductive game wherin one good hole in an outing convinces a man he really could play and should come back. (It is also the absolute best Father – Son – Grandson activity on any given April 16.)

As a public service I am reporting the official meaning of some golf terms compared with our singular improvements:

 

Birdie

  • Official: one stroke below par.
  • Improved: what flies out of the target my ball just whacked. (See Tree.)

 

Bogey

  • Official: one stroke over par
  • Improved: goal! i.e. “If I could just play bogey golf I’d be happy.”

 

Drive

  • Official: first shot from the tee.
  • Improved: practice shot. (See Mulligan.)

 

Eagle

  • Official: two strokes under par.
  • Improved: endangered national bird—never experienced one in the wild (or on the course).

 

Fairway

  • Official: the closely mown area leading from the tee-box to the green; the target for a drive shot.
  • Improved: the path real men walk across to find their ball. (See Rough.)

 

Gimmie

  • Official: a short putt to be conceded as if it were automatic (not in the official rules).
  • Improved: any shot after two putts. (See Why I still play basketball.)

 

"I'd use a four iron from here."

“I’d use a four iron from here.”

Mulligan

  • Official: in friendly, unofficial play a “do over” for a bad shot. (Typically one Mulligan is allowed per nine holes.)
  • Improved: Polite, tee-box chatter, “Why don’t you hit another one?” (Typically limited to nine per hole.)

 

Out-of-bounds

  • Official: marked areas where play is not allowed.
  • Improved: huh? (See Scratch.)

 

Rough

  • Official: the area outside of the fairway with higher, thicker grass; meant to punish golfers who miss the fairway.
  • Improved: challenging area where real men play.

 

Scratch

  • Official: player who consistently shoots par or Improved.
  • Improved: what a player does after finding his ball. (See Out-of-bounds.)

 

Slice

  • Official: dramatic, banana-shaped curve moving right of the target.
  • Improved: “I think you can find that.” (See Mulligan, Out-of-bounds, Scratch, Rough, Gimmie, and Triple-bogey.)

 

Tree

  • Official: hazard or challenge
  • Improved: target (See Birdie.)
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7 Keys Peak Leaders Use to Get Feedback

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I just returned from a very positive two-and-a-half day session designed to elicit feedback and generate new ideas. Here are some keys you can use to lead for peak performance:

 

1. Sharpen your razor before you shave.

 

If there aren’t some sparks flying your blade is going to remain dull. Purposefully invite people you know have differing opinions, personalities, and perspectives.

 

2. Location, location, location.

 

As much as is possible, get people away from the weight of their daily responsibilities. Trying to create and produce at the same time is like trying to bathe a cat. Schedule time to socialize informally. We all love to eat.

 

3.    Begin with the end.

 

Manage expectations. Clearly define the purpose and result. Set the ground rules, even when there are none. And remind people that not every idea can be used, but all are welcome.

 

4.    A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

 

Start by asking, “What are we doing well?” The answers are the easiest, create a healthy vibe, and set the positive stage for being able to really listen to the negs. Then buck-up and assume the position.

 

5.    Laughter is the best medicine.

 

You’ll know you’re building a closely-knit team when heavy discussions are seasoned with chuckles and the occasional belly laugh. Friends who share mirth aren’t disagreeable—even when they disagree. There will be a wit or two in the group—let them go even if they’re sometimes dim. (I think that describes me.)

 

6.    Major in the majors.

 

You’ll get way more input than you can use. If you get one or two big takeaways that can be implemented you have a grand slam.

 

7.    Celebrate success so you can rinse and repeat.

 

It is important to thank everyone, but the effect is nothing compared to putting an idea to work. Publicize the effort, connect the dots, and set the stage for future success.

 

Outstanding leaders seek and use feedback.

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