The Role Of Trust In The Partnership Ranks

Excerpted from the June 2008 issue of INSIDE Public Accounting

Consultant August Aquila believes that firm leaders are as perplexed about accountability as they are about selling.

Partners resist selling, picturing themselves as used car salesmen instead of professionals giving clients the services they need. Today, when they think of accountability, they imagine their MP forcing them to do things they don’t want to do. But that’s not the case.

No MP wants to feel like a den mother, says Aquila, CEO of AQUILA Global Advisors of Minnetonka, Minn. “Accountability is really an obligation to accept responsibility for your own actions,” he says. “Accountability is something you hold yourself to.”

Accountability is closely intertwined with trust, he says. “If you don’t have trust in a relationship you don’t really have anything, so to me, trust is the foundation of any strong partnership.” Aquila agreed to talk with IPA about the role trusts plays in the productivity and success of a partner group.

Aquila referred to Stephen M.R. Covey’s book, “The Speed of Trust,” which defines trust as having two components – character (who you are) and competence (the results you produce). Trust can be earned. As partners show excellent work and positive results, it’s like money in the bank, but when success is countered by abusive treatment of staff, it’s a big withdrawal.

Certain behaviors are indicators the firm is operating without a high level of trust – ignoring problems, pointing fingers, making excuses, justifying mistakes or waiting for directives rather than taking initiative. In a low-trust firm, doors are often closed. Meetings are held and no one says what they’re really thinking. Supervisors micromanage their staff because they don’t trust them to do their jobs. Because so much time is spent making sure tasks are completed, less time is spent servicing clients, which can affect profitability, he says.

In a firm with a high level of trust, professionals have the confidence to point out issues or problems, take responsibility and solve them. “These concepts take a long time to develop if you’re starting from a lack of trust and accountability,” he says. “It’s not something that takes six months or a year – it’s ongoing.”

Aquila has some insight for firm leaders interested in building a stronger sense of trust and accountability in their organizations:

Get the facts. While you can’t measure ‘trust’ per se, you can measure behaviors. You can measure if partners are learning new skills and producing results. Remember that competence is half of the trust equation. To get at character issues, a 360-degree survey could be helpful with questions like, How well does Partner X live up to the firm’s values? How trustworthy is Partner X? Does Partner X withhold information? Everyone must trust the questionnaires will be kept confidential, so bringing in an outside consultant is advisable. Client surveys can also be helpful, along with staff turnover statistics.

Put together a team to tackle the problem. Identify a couple of partners who feel the same way as you do. “An MP can’t force it,” Aquila says. The team can also include senior managers or a long-term administrative professional.

Make accountability a priority. “One of the things that really hurts firms the most is the whole concept of complacency: We’re happy where we’re at, we’re doing OK, and we’re making money; why change?” Aquila says. “Sometimes an MP [or the firm management] needs to overcome complacency and create a sense of urgency.”

Develop a plan and communicate it. The MP must lay out a vision and a strategy for improving the level of trust and build support with partners through one-on-one meetings.

Look for the low-hanging fruit. Early successes will build momentum for the effort. Aquila says unless partners and staff see concrete results and get frequent, gentle reminders, they might look at the initiative as another “program du jour” that will die quietly.

Stay on course. “You’ve got to believe this stuff. Don’t slip back into your old ways of doing things,” Aquila tells IPA. “I think that’s hard because people want to change, but they don’t see – or they don’t understand – how hard it is to really change an organization.”

Aquila has seen firms with prima donna partners who think they can treat staff any way they want because they work long hours and make money for the firm; he’s seen MPs who seem to care more about themselves than the success of the firm. While firms like that experience success, it’s only in the short term. Low-trust firms attract low-trust staff, he warns.

He’s also seen plenty of firms turn themselves around, with partners catapulting from underperformers to overachievers. A crisis in the firm, such as the loss of a major client or the sudden death of an MP, can create an urgent commitment to change. Another trigger for change is strong leadership.

No matter what spurs change in a firm, standards are key. Partners and others need to understand the expectations through written goals. Aquila conducted a survey a few years ago in which he asked respondents whether they believed a firm would be more profitable if partners had written goals. A strong majority – 85% – answered yes. The next question was, “Does your firm have written goals?” The same percentage said no.

Creating and strengthening trust is a lot of work, but the investment is worth it, Aquila says. “The more you can build the whole culture of accountability and trust within an organization, the stronger the firm becomes.”

Transitioning To A New MP: Experts Define The “Right” Way To Fast-Track The Process For Success

Excerpted from the June 2008 issue of INSIDE Public Accounting

While President Obama [excerpted from 2008] is being flooded with advice, recommendations, white papers and policy statements from a team of advisors in the weeks and months after he takes office, new CPA firm leaders face a unique transition process of their own The expectations for all firm leaders are high; but for some new MPs, the vision may not be clear. New MPs may not know what the partners want until after they take over the reins. As the talk of transition is very much in the air, IPA talked with two CPA management consultants and asked them to share their insights into this important change in leadership

Planning for a change in leadership at least a year in advance is one of the keys to creating a smooth transition from one MP to another, say two experts in the field. Incoming MPs should use the transition period to gather information and ask lots of questions, and once they take over the top job, they should not hit the ground running, but “hit the ground listening,” says CPA management consultant Patrick McKenna.

Years ago, a new MP was chosen based on “whose turn it was.” That individual, usually the oldest partner, may not have had the skills or the emotional intelligence to lead the firm. Today, smart firms are thinking more strategically, laying the groundwork for a new MP months in advance. IPA asked McKenna and consultant Robert Gallagher to share their insights into this important change in leadership.

Gallagher, of Pittsburgh-based R.J. Gallagher & Associates, is a former MP and has consulted hundreds of firms over the years. McKenna, of Edmonton, Canada, is the author of the e-book, First 100 Days: Transitioning A New Managing Partner, and the leader of a bi-annual master class for new MPs held at the University of Chicago. IPA asked both consultants to share their insights into the following questions.

What are some of the most common mistakes new MPs make? New MPs who believe they already know the issues and the solutions are taking the wrong approach, McKenna tells IPA. That attitude is practically a guarantee that partners and staff will be discouraged from sharing important information needed to succeed. New MPs should also be aware how their relationships are perceived. MPs coming to the top leadership position after heading a practice area or leading a branch office will likely be perceived as someone with obvious loyalties to old, established friends and staff, McKenna says.

Gallagher says the most common mistake is probably not determining the expectations of the partner team. “It’s a matter of really delineating what the roles and responsibilities are and the measures of success – that takes upfront planning, and not enough of that is done prior to the actual takeover,” he says. He adds that another problem is the new MP not stating the vision for the firm and letting everyone know the necessity of buying into it.

What are the challenges new MPs face? New MPs will likely go through distinct emotional stages, McKenna says. The first stage is “anticipation.” This is where the new MPs have just learned about the appointment or selection, they’re excited, proud at being chosen, and busy making to-do lists. The traps they fall into at this stage include not understanding what they’ve said yes to, failing to properly prepare, underestimating their own need to change, and perhaps not beginning the transition soon enough. The second stage is “adjustment.” This is when the reality of the daily tasks do not align with the individual’s picture of being the MP. This is the time when the new MP begins to realize that the position requires new capabilities and skills.

Can you think back on any transitions that didn’t go well? “Transitions that aren’t planned are the ones that don’t go right,” says Gallagher. Once the new MP steps into the job, that person should meet with partners individually within the first 90 days and then continue to maintain a constant stream of communication.

McKenna concurs. He also advises conducting one-on-one interview sessions with the partner group (and other key professionals in the firm), asking each the same questions to get their insights, solicit their advice and see what themes emerge. Clarify what they want and what they expect a new MP to shake up and what they want preserved.

What is the outgoing MP’s responsibility during the transition? The outgoing MP can help create a smooth transition by fixing problems ahead of time, Gallagher says. If something’s not working in HR, IT or marketing, don’t wait for the new MP to step up to the plate. Sometimes, new MPs serve as the COO partner within the firm first. If that’s the case, it’s a great opportunity to work with the outgoing MP, says Gallagher.

McKenna Points To Five Responsibilities of The Outgoing MP

  • Don’t believe you are indispensable. Compose your 30-second ‘elevator speech’ to tell people, in a positive way, why you are making the move and to convey your excitement about the future – yours and the firm’s.
  • Deal with annoying operational problems or troublesome personalities before stepping down from the position.
  • Codify and share, with the new MP, the information that you wish you knew when you first took over the position.
  • Do all you can to assure the success of the new MP.
  • “Let go.” The sooner you get out of the way, the sooner the new MP can get down to business.

What is the biggest surprise new MPs face? McKenna and Gallagher both say new MPs are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work and the time it takes to do the job right. Many of them are not full-time MPs, so they struggle with finding a balance between the time needed to manage the firm and the time required to maintain some kind of personal practice.

If you were to think about best practices, what advice would you offer to the MP?  It’s critical to meet individually with partners and key staff in the first 30 days to find out the shared vision and their thoughts about the firm, Gallagher advises. In the first 90 days, gather all the partners in an off-site meeting for a day to share visions and expectations. “Client service is our hallmark, so it’s important to get everyone on the same page, particularly when you’re going to the next level as a firm, say from $5 million to $10 million.”

McKenna agrees that new MPs should spend the bulk of their time listening and asking questions, obtaining feedback and insight on what is right – and wrong – with the firm’s operations, etc. Settle on a few major priorities at first. Make time during the initial 30 days to meet with clients. Ideally, within the first 100 days, you need to target a few early wins, he says. Pick some problems your firm has not been able to address and figure out a way to fix them quickly.

Any particular challenges/advice for the MP who is taking over for the founding partner? “Founding partners [who] have started their firms from zero and built it up to be very successful and usually have had the leadership for quite a long time,” Gallagher says. “The founding partner many times has had the authority to do some things others might question, but they’ve been successful.” A new MP might want to go in a completely different direction – a consensus-builder rather than an authoritative figure – but Gallagher warns against extremes. A new MP should be mindful that accountability is still important. Don’t relax the rules, he says.

Gallagher adds that it’s tougher to bring in someone new when an outgoing MP still wants to be involved. “If the departing MP remains as chair of the firm, but hands over the daily operations to the new MP, in my opinion, it doesn’t work,” he tells IPA. In most firms, when the new MP assumes responsibility, he or she should be allowed to lead the firm; otherwise, too many mixed signals can be sent. Gallagher has seen some firms split the MP responsibilities between two co-managing partners, which can work well. He does not recommend that the executive committee run the firm, a model that is often put in place after an autocratic MP leaves and the partners are looking for more consensus. “I believe a firm needs a final decision-maker for accountability. Managing by committee went out many years ago for a reason,” he says.

McKenna shares, “Whether hand-picked or elected, you must honor the success and ideals of the managing partner you’re replacing. It is important to communicate that you are setting your own course, and make it clear you’re up to the challenge.”

Gallagher emphasizes these four traits for the new MP: trust, communication, inspiration and accessibility. “The leader in a CPA firm has to have high emotional intelligence. A strong structure should be in place, and you’ve got to have a strong team. If you’ve got ‘A’ players, then it allows the COO and the MP to do their jobs. In order to be successful, new MPs need a solid structure, a strategy, shared vision, a strong culture and an unyielding focus on execution.

McKenna tells IPA that new MPs should not lose sight of the fact that everyone at the firm wants to know the new MP cares about them. “What can a new MP do to let every partner know that you believe they can become even more successful?”

When you’re looking at President Obama in this difficult time, he’s meeting with important people and trying to inspire everyone. In a firm, you’re doing the same thing. The new MP has to have high emotional intelligence. A strong structure should be in place, and they have to have a strong team.

What I Wish I Knew…Advice From The Trenches – More Advice

I realized that fundamentally my relations with my partners would never be the same. Everyone has an agenda when they talk to you. As managing partner you can never again just be one of the guys.

The sheer number of requests for meetings and for discussing issues . . . both petty and major, that fall on my desk, is absolutely staggering.

You realize that if people ever begin to say: This firm is no good, it’s not the firm, it’s you. It suddenly becomes unbelievably personal.

You don’t know all of the answers when you assume this position and some of the answers you thought you knew, you soon discover aren’t really that workable in the real world. What worked for you or your predecessor in the past, may not work tomorrow.

A surprise for me was that what you say is not always what the partners hear and that constant reinforcement of the message by word and deed are critical.

Not withstanding all of the qualities I believe I have, I’m often feeling like a fish out of water. And yet how do I tell anyone what I’m going through? I need them to go on believing in me and trusting that I know what I’m doing.

“Don’t underestimate the amount of time it will take to learn the ropes and re-learn what you thought you knew about being MP.”

It is important to balance vision and culture, and execute the strategic initiatives to support the vision. You have to spend time clarifying and are more responsive to you, positively communicating the vision of the firm.

I didn’t realize the clout that comes with the title of MP. There’s a tremendous amount of prestige that comes with the position. You need to be more diplomatic, watch how you say things, and watch your mannerisms. Your mood is magnified when you’re MP – people and negatively.

I wish I were told that I should consider a Kevlar lining to all my suits. Not all of us are born with an elephant’s hide. But in a position where the buck truly stops here you will frequently find yourself at the butt end of all problems and not always at the head of the parade for all victories.

Don’t ever underestimate the amount of time it will take to learn the ropes and re-learn what you thought you knew about being MP.

It is important to balance vision and culture, and execute the strategic initiatives to support the vision. You have to spend time clarifying and communicating the vision of the firm.

You need to learn to be persuasive and help partners and staff come to a better conclusion that they would have otherwise.

If you are going to continue with a full book of business, understand that you will likely be an MP before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m., a family man on alternating weekends and will have to learn to survive on five hours of sleep a night. The MP job is a minimum of six days a week, easily seven if you let it! Something is going to have to give – think about what that should be.

In your first year, you have so much to do and so much to learn that the change on your psyche doesn’t hit immediately. It will likely hit in your second year – especially the feeling of being separated from your peer group to a different level.

Be tough when you need to be tough. Make a plan and have the discipline to stick to it. Expect a lot of tough days. Dealing with partners is tough.

There will be a lot of useless noise in your day. You need to understand what the useless noise is and dismiss it quickly.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true – it’s lonely at the top. You need to strike a balance between important relationships and professional distance. You’re not “one of the guys” anymore.

Understand that as the MP, the criticism is not aimed at you personally, but at you as the designated head of the firm.

Twenty years ago, getting people was easy and getting business was hard. Today it is the opposite, and you need to adapt the culture of the firm to meet changing times as needed.

I didn’t realize the clout that comes with the title of MP. There’s a tremendous amount of prestige that comes with the position. You need to be more diplomatic, watch how you say things, and watch your mannerisms. Your mood is magnified when you’re MP – people are more responsive to you, positively and negatively.

You will experience an initial emptiness when moving from serving clients to serving the partner group. You slowly move out of the client world – it can be an empty feeling.

The things that give you a sense of fulfillment change. Before, working with clients and getting the feedback from them was what motivated you. After you become MP, your sense of fulfillment comes from seeing the results of your activities when the firm starts showing different results. The satisfaction comes from within.

You live and breathe the firm. Your life is fully integrated in the success of the firm. People who become MP need to understand the effect on their personal life, time, travel and relationships. Travel and time commitments hit immediately.

Don’t underestimate the amount of energy it takes to create consensus among accountants. It’s not just the numbers that move a firm forward – getting consensus on something less “provable” is difficult.

You will need to delegate a lot, but be sure not to have too many people reporting to you. Don’t underestimate the value of a COO when you get too many people reporting to you. As MP with all of your responsibilities, you probably can be only about 50% as effective as a COO who is fully focused on the operations of the firm.

Blaze your own trail but have a group of colleagues to tap into. Consider creating your own Board of Advisors.

MPs should still have a connection with clients, but don’t miscalculate what it takes for firm management. The right balance is about 35% client relationship management, 35% practice management, and 70% management of the firm. Yes, something has to give – sometimes you’re not sure what.

Tap into the intellectual capital of someone who has been there and done that. Join an association, befriend others, and avoid mistakes others have made. Don’t try to go it alone. It’s not an easy thing to run a firm. It starts as a very collegial environment but you need to move to a more corporate mentality.

If you have multiple offices, actively do things to segment yourself from the office you came from. You want to ensure that you are seen as focused on the whole firm, not just the office you came from.

When you grow in the profession, you master technical skills. But being an MP is such a people job. Don’t underestimate the time factor in dealing with all of the people issues. There are so many personalities within a firm, and you really want to help everyone with both their business problems as well as their personal issues. Almost like a priest, you need to listen to peoples’ problems – don’t absolve them of their sins, just listen hard!

Don’t think that leading is the same as managing. It’s not. Managing is dictating, leading is trying to get everyone else to do their best.

Be sure to give your employees credit for what they do! As a leader, you’re not there to get credit. If you need to get credit for what happens within the firm, you’re not mature enough to be an MP.

What I Wish I Knew…Advice From The Trenches

Everyone needs a mentor. Even MPs.

As the rigors and challenges of leading a firm become more complex, we thought it would be of interest to tap into the collective wisdom of newly appointed MPs.

No MP comes into the job with the illusion that leading a firm will be easy. Taking over the top job brings complicated challenges; some of them expected, some not. IPA asked four MPs, all fairly new to the position, to talk about “what I wish I knew when I became managing partner.” The result is a candid, wide-ranging conversation about the realities and rewards of the role.

What do you wish someone told you when you became MP about the reality of partner motivation, and the best way to approach it?

I have a strong sense on a personal level of what the interests are of the partners, so to some extent that makes the job easier because I know their strengths and weaknesses.

Trying to build consensus is difficult and maybe not even possible.

At some point you’ve got to balance getting everyone on board with making decisions and moving through the process.

Our partners are highly goal-oriented. They’ve achieved a certain level of authority and responsibility, and I’ve found that money – this is a shocker – can be a motivator.

For some, you could pay them plus or minus a certain number and I don’t know that you would change the result at all. For others, they’ll move heaven and earth for an extra $5,000.

You need to make sure the compensation is structured around the goals you want them [partners] to accomplish.

Every successful partner, and some not so successful, believes they do things the right way. Changing their practices is not something they want to think about even though it may be more profitable for the firm and/or make their life easier.

Understand that every partner is different. They all have their pet issues. A one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work.

You have to use the strategic plan as the rallying point. I mean, look, this is what we all agreed to, we hashed this out as a firm, so everything we do is going to run through that filter.

What have you learned since taking over that you can share with others?

Every meeting goes longer than you project.

I’m not sure if there’s anything more important in the job than trying to organize this tremendous set of talents and this collective energy in a way that one and one equals three.

I’ve always felt it’s best to be direct, and be careful how much you sugarcoat issues because they just don’t go away.

Be sure you let people know when you are analyzing or talking through an issue. Many times they can conclude that you are communicating your decision. Many, out of respect for your position, will not give you honest input on the issue if they think you have already decided. Some will.

Partner motivation is absolutely the hardest thing in the world to do. You’ve got a lot of successful people who truly believe that their way is the only way.

You’ve got to listen to the group, no matter what they’re saying, and they’ve got to feel like when you’re talking to them they’re the most important people in the whole world. They want an outlet, and they want you to listen.

Find a way for them to have a voice, no matter how big or small. If they have that, they’ll buy into the process. Include them and communicate to the point where you think, ‘Man, if I say this again, someone’s going to throw up because they’re tired of hearing it.’

You can’t over-communicate, and it’s got to be granular.

One of the problems is passive-aggressiveness. No one will say anything in the meeting, but when it comes time for the rubber to meet the road, you find they didn’t like it.

You’ve got to understand the other person’s perception. If you understand that – whether it’s reality or not – if you can put yourself in that position, then every problem is solvable.

Any time there’s a problem, it’s generally two people not communicating. What is this person trying to say to me that I can’t see? If I can figure that out, I can mold my message to fit that.

I didn’t feel prepared on the first day to say, ‘OK, I got it all figured out, here’s what we’re going to do.’ I took the first year spending a little too much time managing and not enough leading, but I think it was time well spent.

Go get a psychologist, even if it’s a corporate psychologist. Have someone you can go to to say, ‘This is what I’m dealing with.’ He/she can help craft your message. I tell you, that is gold.

I think the thing is to have a clear direction. The biggest thing we’re in the midst of now is getting more focused on niche development and niche marketing. Our partners are spending a tremendous amount of time retooling themselves. In the past, we’d go after business on a geographic basis.

I spent the first year building a foundation and now I’m prepared to lead.

You need to go through a good long-range planning process within the first year. Part of this process is to inventory the opportunities and threats of your firm and to identify the internal issues both positive and negative that your partners are concerned about. You may find that you already knew about many of these issues or opportunities but you will probably find out there are some that you do not.

We do quarterly firm meetings where we quiz people on the strategic plan. We gave people $1,000 for a perfect score on it. We have partners team up against staff on who knows the strategic plan best. Unfortunately, the partners consistently lose (laughs).

You’ve got to do some different things. You’ve got to make it fun. If you’re just beating people to follow the strategic plan, people are going to shut down.

Spend a few days on your strategic plan and refresh it every six months.

Some hard decisions are part of the job. Do the best job you can in analyzing the circumstances and then make the decision and get on with the implementation process. “Shit” happens, deal with it.

What’s the hardest thing to accept/adapt to regarding your role/efforts with motivation?

Even in a relatively small group like we have, there’s a great deal of diversity. One thing I’ve learned is that I had some idea that if I said something sensible and backed it up, people would automatically see the value of it and agree to it, but it’s become abundantly clear that it doesn’t work like that.

What you have to do is figure out what your compass is and trust your judgment and be willing to take the reasonable consequences of doing that. At any point in time, nearly every decision you make might only please a minority of constituents.

The hardest thing is to motivate people who are more senior than I am.

It’s about balance. It would be nice to think that you could measure yourself by the degree of unanimity you get around your decisions, but that’s pretty clearly not realistic.

It is hard to accept that you don’t always know the answer. But decisions have to be made to move the firm forward. Few decisions are perfect, but you have to make the decision and then work to make the results work anyway.

Marketing yourself…all that means is asking for something and then doing whatever it takes to get it.

You need to focus more on subgroups within the firm in terms of actually developing a vision that’s attuned to their circumstances, and at the firm level you need to bring it all together.

Most of us agree we don’t want or need to make sweeping changes. We need to do a number of things we’re dedicated to doing and get even better at them.

As part of my association affiliation, I interact with MPs from other firms…I get a sense pretty readily of the commonalities that we experience.

With me, it’s building personal relationships with individual partners. So I try to spend a lot of time with them.

I have a great appreciation for partners who just get to the job and get it done. No excuses, no exception, no explanations as to why their situation or client base is different and therefore deserves special consideration, they just get to it. This group of partners deserves strong compensation and firm leadership roles.

This is what I tell my staff now. You’ve got to tell people what you want. On the flip side, the worst thing you can do is tell people this is what you want and not put in the effort.

What do you wish someone told you when you became MP about aligning the firm behind a common vision, and the best way to approach it?

Five years ago, if you could find the bodies you could make it all work. So the common vision that might have prevailed eight years ago, or five years ago, probably is in need of some revision.

When you talk about a common vision it’s a challenge to find the element of commonality that might resonate with groups facing very different things.

You need to focus more on subgroups within the firm in terms of actually developing a vision that’s attuned to their circumstances, and at the firm level you need to bring it all together.

The string of events that led to the point where I got elected might have been in part premised on the fact that I managed a smaller firm. Also, I was at a point in my career where I’m able to put the firm ahead of my own interests.

You need to get a good set of golf clubs and use them. You need to find something that lets you ‘leave’ when you leave.

I give a vision or a direction to my management committee, they give me feedback and we roll it out to the partners. Most of the time there’s some discussion, but there has not been any pushback.

A major part of the MP’s job is to develop the long-range vision and goals. If you’re as fortunate as I’ve been, you inherit a quality firm structure with solid goals and objectives in place, but you still have to introduce your vision or twist to those objectives. Even then you must work to get buy-in to your changes and to why those changes are worth the diversion.

No one is going to tell you what they really think in a group setting. They won’t do it. No matter how hard you try. Whatever you hear may not be what is actually happening.

I will say this, in a smaller firm, it’s a lot easier, but in a larger group of partners sitting around the table and we have a day or two devoted to the strategic plan, half of them won’t even talk.

If you’re not growing, you’re not providing new opportunities. The firm has to be growing or it just doesn’t work.

We have an ice breaker we do before every partner retreat, where we go around the room and talk about something like, What do you want out of your life? Or, when you’re dead, what do you want people to say about you? Every time we go through that exercise, we find that we really aren’t that different.

Most of us agree we don’t want or need to make sweeping changes. We need to do a number of things we’re dedicated to doing and get even better at them.

What has been the hardest thing to accept or adapt to regarding your role and efforts with aligning the firm behind a common vision?

This is not a surprise, but in the end, there’s more work than you can do, so you need to be able to balance what you can do and what others can do and what’s just noise – and you don’t always get those answers right.

I always felt I could make decent decisions relatively quickly, and it’s useful in this job, but there’s certainly a lot of decisions that need to be made. If you can’t make them quickly, you’re going to fall behind.

I have become surprised by what I think is not uncommon, but I haven’t really experienced it before – a resistance to change or a fear of change that’s rather prevalent.

I think people talk about loving change, but what I think they really mean is they want change for the other person, but not for them.

You’ve got to tell the same story over and over. They don’t follow you only because they see your actions, you have to be vocal about it.

Self-doubt. Do I really belong in this role? When are they going to find out that the emperor doesn’t have any clothes? I’m nervous. I’m as scared about what I’m saying as they are about what they’re hearing.

Learning that I got this role for reason, that I do deserve it…that’s been tough for me to learn.