Attestation Update – A&A for CPAs

Technical stuff for CPAs providing attestation services

Addition to your client continuance checklist – use ideas from seven habits of spectacularly unsuccessful executives

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Here’s an idea for something to add to your client continuance checklist.

Boil down the major points of The seven habits of spectacularly unsuccessful executives, by Sidney Finkelstein, which he wrote in 2004.  Turn his analysis into a list of major warning signs that suggest you don’t want to keep working with a client.

I’ve just started reading the full article.  Here is a summary, provided by David Albrecht, in his post, Arrogance and Social Media.

  1. They see themselves (and their organizations) dominating their environment
  2. They identify so completely with the organization that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporation’s interests
  3. They think they have all the answers
  4. They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely behind them
  5. They are consummate spokespersons, obsessed with the company image
  6. They underestimate obstacles
  7. They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past

Those are the common threads noted by Mr. Finkelstein in his research on why business leaders fail.

His full length book on the topic is Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes.

Prof. Albrecht draws a common thread through all seven points:

I can sum up the list in three words: pride, arrogance and bullying.

When I looked at the list, my immediate thought was to summarize that list and add it to my client continuance checklist. Not so much the acceptance checklist, because in my market niche those factors aren’t as extreme as in the Fortune 500 world, so you may not pick up on those attitudes until after you’ve worked with an organization for a little while.

The reason to add it to the continuance checklist is that when you realize those factors are in play, you will then know your risks are double or triple what you thought they were.

Here is my first cut on the list.  I’ve added it to my continuance and acceptance checklists.  You might want to develop your own.

  • Does leadership see themselves (and their organizations) dominating their environment
  • Does the CEO/ED/president identify so completely with the organization that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporation’s interests
  • Does leadership think they have all the answers
  • Does leadership stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past (i.e. refusal to look at the radical rate of change around us)
  • Common thread of above: pride, arrogance, bullying

Hat tip: The Summa

Written by Jim Ulvog

January 17, 2012, 8:41 am at 8:41 am

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