Chicago Tribune sportswriter David Haugh wrote a marvelous article about Jerry Krause, one of the sports world’s most brilliantly successful executives. Terribly misunderstood and unfairly maligned, Krause, now 73, was the general manager of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s during their reign as six-time NBA champions. A few excerpts grabbed my attention that would form the foundation of any book on CPA firm management.
Krause’s immigrant parents owned two businesses – a deli and a shoe store. Says Krause: “They didn’t know anything about either business. But their philosophy served them well: ‘Treat people well and we’ll be fine.”
This is very similar to a favorite quote of mine from Bob Nelson and Peter Economy’s book, Managing for Dummies: “Management is a people job. If you’re not up to the task of working with people – helping them, listening to them, encouraging them and guiding them – then you shouldn’t be a manager.”
Years ago, a reporter ominously began an interview with Krause: ‘You’ve won six championships,’ only to have Krause interject with the line that was to forever doom his image: “No, the organization won six NBA championships.” He was saying that no one person is above the team and that it takes contributions from many key people to make a team successful. This line didn’t sit well with the team’s superstar, Michael Jordan. Krause says to Haugh: “No player ever won six world championships. He was part of a team. Who put you there? Who helped develop you? Who scouted for you? Who coached you?
This parallels my long-held belief that the single most important factor in a CPA firm’s success is the management of the firm, not rainmaking, brilliant technical work, talented staff or astounding productivity. Management is the umbrella and the catalyst that makes all of the other things happen.
The article displays some of Krause’s humor, which was contrary to his dour reputation. Krause was a baseball scout before he was the Bulls’ general manager. He once summed up a prospect by writing, “He reminds me of me: Can’t hit. Can’t run. Can’t throw.”
Krause has returned to his baseball roots, and today is a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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