Accountability factor

James P. Carulas learned
the hard way that sometimes the toughest decision you have to make is not to hire someone.

When Meaden & Moore, a
180-employee accounting firm,
had major growth opportunities staring it in the face,
Carulas, the president and
CEO, was tempted go on a hiring spree.

However, he says it’s better
not to hire anyone than to hire
someone who isn’t a good fit
for the company.

Smart Business spoke with
Carulas about how to grow
smartly and how to make sure
you and your employees are
on the same page.

Q. What are the keys to
being an effective leader?

In order to be effective leaders, people have to be role
models. We have to inspire, we
have to communicate a vision
and inspire that vision.

Effective leadership is sharing the vision, getting people
to buy in to that vision of what
the future can be, where we’re
trying to go and having everybody pull toward that in a collaborative way.

Leadership isn’t, ‘I’m in a
position; you’ll do what I say.’
Leadership is, ‘I believe in the
organization; I believe in what
we’re trying to do. I take personal responsibility.’

In effective organizations,
the vision and beliefs are not
static things developed in a
strategic planning meeting and
put on the shelf. They are reinforced constantly throughout
the organization through the
way they interact with the
policies you make.

Q. How do you share your
vision with employees?

It’s in the way you communicate it. First of all, you have to
know — when creating a vision,
you have to know yourself. Part
of effective leadership is the
leaders having an understanding
in their personal beliefs and
who they are.

If you understand who you
are as an organization — what
you stand for, who you are,
where you’re going — then the
other aspect is the people coming in have to understand
who this organization is.

Q. How do you make
sure your employees
understand the
organization’s direction?

To do that, you have to
understand who they
are and what they’re trying to achieve. If you
have that insight, from
then on out, everybody’s
looking for verification
of what you told them
when they were coming
in. They bought the idea,
‘I’m SBN, we’re a management journal that’s
going to create practical,
real-life information for
people. We’re going to put best
practices into our journal.’

When you came in, you were
told what they were trying to
do, and you bought in to that.
After that, it needs to be communicated daily.

When we create a vision, it’s
what we see the world looking
like for Meaden & Moore 10
years out. There are all kinds
of things that could impact us.
But you have to start by saying
this is what the ideal would be
like. This is the impact we
would like to make.

All our actions should be in
concert with what we believe.
If people believe it, they will
be acting it out every day.
From communicating it verbally to the activities you promote to the way you reward
people to the way you celebrate people’s success — it’s
all in alignment to what your
vision and belief is.

Q. How do you get buy-in?

The buy-in comes because
you’ve modeled it in your mind, you’re able to inspire
others, you’re able to create,
you’re able to get other people
onto the train.

When you paint your vision,
you have to understand the
dynamics of all the people in the
organization. We all work in the
organization, so there has to be
some commonality. You have to
gain some understanding of the
people who work in our offices
and what they’re looking to do. I
can’t say all of a sudden we’re
going to be the firm that will
provide services to NASA, when
I have a bunch of people who
don’t like science.

You have to know your people; you have to ask for feedback. Have an understanding of
what motivates your people.

You have to get a feel for the
landscape of your organization
and the people that you have
because a vision that is not
aligned with a reality check on
who you have is doomed to fail.

Q. How do you make sure
your vision is being executed?

You have to convince a core
group of people where we’re
trying to go. Then you have to
have them reinforce it constantly in their actions and in
their communications. They
can’t say one thing then do
something else.

Everybody has to have buy-in,
and it needs to be communicated on a number of different levels. The way you inspire it is
understanding your people, and
what their goals are, aligning
that or taking that into consideration when you paint the
vision, then you model it, then
communicate that and share it. You get everybody to be part
of it.

HOW TO REACH: Meaden & Moore, (216) 241-3272 or