By Steven G. Ezikian, MSBO Board Immediate Past President, Deputy Superintendent, Wayne RESA
For the April 2019 edition of MSBO’s eNews & Views, I wrote the following opening paragraph to my article; “As I am ending my term on the MSBO Board of Directors and retirement is no longer something out on the far horizon I thought I would share, in my last article in the eNews and Views the six most important things that I have learned in my various roles as a Business Official and in leadership. (and none of them have anything to with the GASB, Accounting Codes, the 1022 Manual, federal grant management or anything with a number in it J). So, here they are, with a little bit of commentary and not in any particular order.”
Well, guess what, that turned out to not be my last term serving on the MSBO board. I have had the unique privilege of filling in as immediate past president this past year and opportunity to write one more article. In April 2019, I gave you the six most important things that I have learned as a Business Official. Since then, I have learned a few more things. Here they are (again, in no particular order):
1.You can always get better – It took me a while to realize this, but nobody is good at everything. The important thing is to understand what you are not good at and work at it. In evaluating candidates for leadership positions, I would at times provide a list of competencies that were important to that role’s function and leadership responsibilities. Those competencies fit into the following categories; Analytical, Management, Leadership, Self-Management and Relationships. I would then ask them to categorize those competencies as either Intuitive, Nurturing or Developing.
- Intuitive – This is an area of competency that comes naturally to you and requires little or no continuing attention in order to achieve ongoing mastery.
- Nurturing – This is an area of competency that does not come entirely naturally, but through practice, experience or training you have achieved a level of mastery that requires attention to maintain.
- Developing – This is an area of competency in which you have little or no experience with, or see as an area for improvement.
This exercise was not intended to see who had the most “intuitive competencies” but to help them think about those competencies that are not intuitive and need purposeful attention.
What are your nurturing and developing competencies, and how are you purposefully paying attention to those skills as you continue to grow as a professional?
2.People can follow you better in the light than in the dark – Communication is essential to help your team know where you are going. Don’t leave your team in the dark and expect them to still be behind you at the end of the day. (This is something I continually have to nurture.)
3.I am not who you think I am – Take a moment and look at my picture and assess who you think I am and file that to the side. Now let me tell you a bit about me:
- My father’s parents were peasants living in eastern Turkey, my mother’s parents were prosperous farmers and business owners living in western Turkey. Both escaped with only their lives, fleeing persecution in World War I.
- Both of my parents were born in France. My mother’s family was smuggled out of France through Spain in 1942; again fleeing the German occupation. My father at the age of 15 joined the French underground to avoid conscription into the German Army. When the World War II ended, he was one of 14 (out of 44) survivors of the underground group he was a part of.
- I grew up in multi-ethnic middle class neighborhood in Dearborn Heights playing baseball at the elementary school, kickball in the street, hide and seek and tag with dozens of the neighbor kids and secretly listening to the adult conversations as they gathered on porches up and down the street on summer evenings.
- My dad most often worked 7 days a week as a tool and die maker for Ford Motor Co. We only had one car, so a family in the neighborhood, a few streets away, would pick us up for church on Sundays.
- I was invited to a Boys and Girls Bible Club at my elementary school when I was 8 years old where I began to understand what it meant to be a Christian and accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
- I majored in accounting in college because I was good in math, but I really wanted to be a farmer.
- I love to ask people questions about what they do. I see art in a master plumber just as clearly as I see it in an accomplished musician.
- I am probably an overly protective father.
- Being a grandfather is the best.
So, there you have it. I am a first generation American with European and Middle Eastern sensibilities, who grew up in a neighborhood that looked somewhat like the United Nations, a “wanna be” farmer who is a sap about his kids and grandkids, and truly believes there is really nothing more important than his faith. I am a product of this story. My values, beliefs and approach to life are shaped by it. Is that what you assumed when you looked at my picture? Probably not.
The places where we work and associations like MSBO are a piece of each of our stories that connect us. As we work with one another it is important to value that people have a much bigger and unique story that shapes how the do their work, see the world and interact with you. In accounting terms, this is a huge asset. Problem solving that engages a diversity of thinking leads to richer and sustainable solution.