'Let them have the limelight'
Education opens doors: I was a beneficiary of the GI Bill. Without the GI Bill probably my opportunity to go to college was just about zero because my parents' education stopped in the eighth grade in country school. That was typical back at that time, and my mother always said, "You need to get off the farm," but then the conversation stopped because she had no exposure beyond the farm. That was good advice, and the GI Bill made that possible for me, and I've never forgotten that I got help. Providing education for those that need help is very important to me.
Get out of your office and talk to people: I'm a believer in walking around. I like to move around and see what's going on, and not make any critical comments, but ask: "Is there anything we need to know? How can we help you? Do you have any ideas that we need to know about?" That's very important. It's getting the bottom-up approach.
Gain a companywide perspective: You need to have an idea what's going on throughout the business. What amazes me sometimes is, some people don't know anything beyond the area that they're in. And it's not very difficult to have some idea what's going on in other areas of the company. Sometimes to have some knowledge of that will be helpful in your area.
Welcome internal auditors: We've got a philosophy at every company I'm associated with. Time after time I hear how the internal auditors have been requested by some part of the company. They're in demand, and to me that denotes exactly the style that you want. In other words, if someone in the company has what they think could be a problem, they want internal audit to help find it rather than being inclined to try to cover anything up.
Surround yourself with all-stars: I like to have people around me that know more than I do. I don't care what department you're in, if you will surround yourself and your department with excellent people who know what they are doing, it shows that you have manager capabilities. And then if opportunities present themselves out here, you're in a much better position to move ahead.
Reward good work: Give people recognition if they participated in something good. Let them have the limelight in contrast with the person in charge of the department. Rather than hog the spotlight, let the people out there who did all the work get a lot of the credit. Too often that doesn't happen. On top of that, if you have incentive plans for different areas, make sure those are effective and they're realistic. Don't have incentive plans that are unrealistic.
— As told to Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com), a JofA editorial director.