S5E38: Off and Running Vulnerability & Generosity at the Fuel for Selfless Leaders (part 2)

“Great leaders shine the light and draw the attention to others.” Peter Margaritis

Improv Leadership sometimes means learning and being vulnerable as a tool that fuels the leaders’ thoughts and actions. It leads to turning the spotlight on others. Peter has explored different methods in today’s episode on how as a leader, one can motivate others and make them shine. The light shines every day, not just during special events.

Examples include Oprah Winfrey, Simon Sinek, and great movies like Remember the Titans and Don’t Think Twice. The Improv leader’s qualities and responsibilities regarding their teams and how they treat them.

S5E33: From Auditor to Executive Director of People and Culture with Stacey Rodgers

“People who want to help people further their business and solve their problems.” Stacey Rodgers

In today’s episode, we welcome Stacey Rodgers to the podcast. Stacey is the executive director of people and culture at Cohen & Company CPA firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. Stacey offers a unique perspective when it comes to helping the firm to develop and maintain outstanding client service teams. As a former auditor who built her career within Cohen & Company, she has a dual understanding of what clients need and expect from their accountants and how to help the firm train and develop employees to be successful.

Being at the center of the firm’s goal of employing the best and the brightest, Stacey oversees the execution of all people and culture initiatives, including performance management, employee engagement, employee development, and recruiting. In addition, with a focus on attracting, developing, and retaining talent, she works to ensure the firm exemplifies its foundational principles. Stacey is also very passionate and very knowledgeable about the accounting profession’s challenges.

Over time, three things have remained the same: first, hiring the right talent; second, training that talent; and third, keeping that talent engaged and excited about their careers. That is the three-legged stool that is critically important to any organization. So it does boil down to the people and ensuring that you have all of those things working together, despite what’s happening around you, within and outside your organization.

The pandemic has helped organizations to learn that they need to be more open to the different working styles of their people and become much more people-centric in their decision-making. A lot of the research shows that during this time of the pandemic, people had the opportunity to step back and reflect on what they wanted. Similarly, opportunities opened up in a way they’ve never been available before because of the changing market in that dynamic.

Leaders have stronger and better relationships today because of the adoption of technology and its capacity to enhance what they do daily. If leaders find the right way to use it going forward and take all the lessons they’ve gained due to this pandemic, they can come out in a much stronger position than they did going into it.

New hires need to learn how to communicate, both internally and externally. They also have to learn how to manage their time. So, for example, there is a difference when someone comes in with the ability to navigate a client problem without having someone to teach them how to do that, as compared to doing that through instinct.

At the end of the day, people who want to help people further their business and solve their problems. However, people underestimate the power of communication and building relationships and the importance of everything we do. Public accounting enables people to acquire these networking skills, which translate to success no matter where your career takes you.

Once you surround yourself with people who are experts in their fields, you will build a relationship and network that will last you a lifetime that goes beyond the purpose of building a business. The most successful people are those who recognize that they can’t do it alone. If you think you can accomplish all your goals on your own, you will only go as far as your ego and head can go. It is only when you start to understand who are the right people you need to surround yourself with that your business can begin to be successful.

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S5E32: Way Off Base: The Death of Ego in Modern Leadership with Peter Margaritis

“The collective knowledge outside your office far exceeds the collective knowledge inside your office.” Peter Margaritis

We all have an ego. Some egos are underdeveloped, others are well developed, and yet others are overdeveloped. Overdeveloped egos can, in some cases, ultimately transform into full-blown narcissism. Conversely, when a person’s ego becomes overdeveloped, they can begin to operate from the perspective that the world revolves around them.

More often than not, narcissistic leaders stop listening to those around them, which ends up creating toxic cultures. CEOs who make everything about them and disregard the advice from their teams are doomed for failure. Listening to understand is one of the critical components of leadership, yet it’s just on the side because of an overdeveloped ego.

Leaders who lead with an improv leadership style have a foundation of respect, trust, and support for their organization and people. These leaders know how to suspend their judgment, be active listeners, and be present and adaptable. They also believe and ultimately understand that leadership is the positive effect you have on another person. In improv leadership, you praise a teammate in public and only criticize them when appropriate and in private.

S5E23: From Improv to Financial Literacy with Rory Henry

“We have to do a better job of providing kids with the foundation of financial literacy so we can set them up for success in the future.” Rory Henry

My guest was Rory Henry has 15 plus years of experience working in tax and, most recently, financial advisory professions. He’s built a program AFO Wealth Management Forward, that works with accounting firms to implement holistic Wealth Management Services. Rory is a technology enthusiast at heart and adept at finding ways to improve the client experience using technology to streamline tax, accounting, and wealth management services.

Rory is the co-host of a leading accounting and financial podcast, AFO Wealth Management forward. His interviews include the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Fortune Magazine, accounting today, Channing Webb and venture-backed FinTech companies, and nationally recognized thought leaders. In addition, Rory has launched Arrowroot Family Office and Goal Setter Financial Literacy Initiative to help 1 million kids gain a pathway to financial freedom. The program is enlisting fortune 1000 companies, athletes, entertainers, and Financial Thought Leaders, to bring resources and awareness in the fight to help kids in underserved communities. Rory has a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and passed the series SIE, Series 63, and series 65 Security exams. Rory is an avid sports fan outside of work, plays golf, and enjoys performing improv comedy at theaters throughout Los Angeles.

Active listening and dropping the ego is huge because it helps you find out what a person’s wants and needs are. Improv is empathy because, in the end, you’re trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s finding out where they are in life, where they want to be, and then helping them get there, and that’s real influence. People want to be heard and understood. You can provide some feedback or add to a conversation. But coming in and providing unsolicited advice is never the smart thing to do. When an improviser has a good idea or wants to interject, they’ll lean forward.

I love helping out clients by looking at their situation in a holistic viewpoint and then being able to provide the right advice to set them up for success in the future. For example, we have a program promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through financial literacy. We believe that providing financial literacy to the next generation is vitally important to our society.

We have to do a better job of providing kids with the foundation of financial literacy so we can set them up for success in the future. We have teamed up with technologies to help kids learn about financial literacy exciting and fun. Reaching kids in underserved communities that may not have financially literate role models is especially important.

We’re sitting in a technological revolution, and these digital devices enable us to reach the masses. Children are inundated with information, so we have to try to set up an environment and make the content engaging. This will enable them to start understanding financial concepts.

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S5E22: Laughter is the Best Medicine for Your Organization

“By injecting humor and levity into our work lives, we give ourselves an opportunity for human connection.” Peter Margaritis

According to some recent research, adding more laughter to the workplace helps improve the organization’s culture. Humor allows people to cope with stress and build relationships and is associated with intelligence and creativity.

Workplace humor is about a positive, light-hearted, open attitude and a playful mindset. One of the best ways to create a competitive advantage is to create a culture that embraces laughter. By injecting humor and levity into our work lives, we give ourselves an opportunity for human connection —something so easily lost in today’s pandemic weary and technology-driven world.

Humor has not been seen as a top leadership characteristic but rather a secondary leadership behavior. However, there is more research evidence that humor should be one of the top leadership behaviors. Incorporating humor into your company culture isn’t that easy, but well worth it. It is essential to understand your own company culture when it comes to humor in the workplace and bring it in a way that fits and enhances the culture and the people.

There is a delicate balance between creating a culture that embraces humor and developing leadership that learns how to use humor to strengthen the organization, and it’s well worth the effort.