Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Demonstrating Leadership

As New Year approaches, with KPI’s being reviewed for 2019 and new ones formed for 2020, these tips are especially relevant for everyone.

My observations: As a technical career starts, the emphasis is on technical, although any career needs leadership goals at any level and this is an excellent time to start.  As a career progresses, leadership skills become more important, providing promotion opportunities as leadership traits are sought by others, with a complement of prior learned technical skills.  

Lynn Szostek, PhD, Capella MBA faculty, shares her tips on how to best demonstrate leadership.  The ideas, and referenced links to additional tips from Capella University, are excellent reference materials and actions for New Year resolutions.

1. Be a thought leader

Get a reputation for knowing your stuff and being on the leading edge of your industry. That might sound like a tall task, but don’t worry. You can do this in stages.

  • Curate content: Share relevant news articles, case studies, and other publications via Twitter or LinkedIn using relevant hashtags for your industry. Be careful to provide context for what you share. Add value by introducing the article with some commentary or opinion of your own. Also, interact with comments on your posts or on similar posts from other people. (As a Capella student, you can practice this step in our MBA Central online hub, where professors and students share ideas and have conversations.)
  • Create content: After curating content for a while, you’ll start to have your own ideas about trends in your industry. Share them! Start a blog, publish a case study, or contribute to an industry publication.
  • Speak at events: Once you’ve established yourself as a thought leader by curating and creating content, you can start exploring speaking opportunities. This could include being a guest on a webinar, a panelist at a local industry meeting, or a keynote speaker at a national conference.

2. Join a professional association

Get involved with a professional association in your industry by attending meetings, networking with members, and perhaps serving on the board. Talk about what you learn from the association with your colleagues and encourage them to get involved, as well.

Not sure where to start? You should be able to find several organizations by doing an internet search for your industry plus the term “professional association.” Start out by attending events and find ways to get more involved. Build your leadership skills by volunteering to head up a committee or organize an event.

3. Look at the big picture

It’s easy to get stuck seeing things from the limited view of your position. Looking at things from the larger lens of the company can help you make better decisions and understand difficult changes.

For example, let’s say the supply chain department of a hospital elects to contain costs by reducing the amount of inventory on hand. This saves up-front money, sure, but the increased time it takes to replenish supplies results in inventory holes, which greatly impacts patient care. Looking at things from a company perspective, you’d quickly realize that one cost-saving measure in the supply chain is not worth the larger cost of reduced patient care for the entire hospital.

Another way to consider the big picture is by observing other industries for ideas. Whoever looked at fast food drive-throughs and thought “Hey, what if we did that in our retail pharmacies?” was really demonstrating leadership and creative problem-solving.

4. Think positively and proactively

When a project doesn’t go as planned, leaders don’t dwell on what went wrong. They also don’t get caught up in office politics or spend their lunch hour gossiping with the Negative Nellies. They proactively seek a solution.

Be sure to set a good example for your colleagues by being optimistic. People like to be around positive people. They want to be excited about their jobs. Help create a positive, proactive atmosphere at the office.

Ways to do that include:

  • Be solution-oriented: When something goes wrong, talk about how to resolve the problem and brainstorm how to do it better next time. Come up with solutions together.
  • Be excited: When a new initiative comes up that requires hard work and change, talk up the benefits with your team. Move in a direction with positivity, and they will follow.
  • Be encouraging: When a coworker goes above and beyond or helps execute a project, give credit where credit is due. Empower your peers with positive encouragement.

5. Listen to and learn from others

Good leaders don’t tell. They listen. Listening to and observing others is a great way to get ideas and gain perspective. Listen to your coworkers, your boss, your peers, your customers, and the overall marketplace. By understanding the perspectives of others, you get a better understanding of the big picture and the challenges at hand. Listening opens yourself up to new ideas.

6. Network with purpose

Networking can help you find opportunities for advancement and hone your leadership skills. Get involved in professional associations, attend conferences, and find other ways to meet people in your industry.

When you attend a networking event, your goal should be for quality over quantity. In other words, handing out 100 business cards isn’t as successful as having 5 solid conversations. The best connections are purposeful. True leaders will identify a way in which to work together or connect again in the future.  Their success is not in how many people they know but in how well they know those people.  Get tips for successful networking.

7. Find a mentor

Simply put, a mentor is a more experienced person who shares professional knowledge and career experiences with you, the mentee. The goal of a mentoring relationship is to gain insight and advice from your mentor to develop your own leadership skills and advance your career goals.

A mentor can be someone in your company or in another company. They can even be in another industry, depending on what you’re seeking to learn. Learn how to find a mentor.

8. Embrace diversity

Fostering diversity in the workplace takes attentive leadership. Good leaders understand that diversity goes beyond age, gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation to include diversity of personalities, ideas, and approaches. Encouraging differing viewpoints among your peers in team meetings can create breakthroughs and true ah-ha moments.

9. Master your job

This may seem like a no-brainer, but none of these ideas will make you a leader if you’re not nailing your own job. Nobody will respect you if you’re spending all your time networking and demonstrating thought leadership while turning in projects late or doing a messy job of it. You must do your work on time and with aplomb while getting involved in your industry and building your leadership credibility.

10. Understand and build upon your strengths

Many companies use personality assessments like Myers-Briggs and StrengthsFinder. These are great tools to help you understand how you approach problems and interact with others.

In Capella’s MBA program, we go beyond those assessments with leadership coaching. Through this program, you not only learn what your strengths are, but how to best use them to develop your leadership style and enhance your management skills. The leadership program provides you with a lifelong growth mindset to help you continuously improve and develop.

In the end, everyone is born a leader. Our success is determined by how we develop our skills, share our knowledge, empower others, and continuing learning.


Leadership development ideas

In today’s ever-changing complex environment,  leadership development should be a top priority, with technical abilities being an inherent assumption via relevant training.  The referenced article succinctly illustrates the difference between positive attributes of leadership development versus the potentially stifling technique of leadership training.  It is a topic worth contemplating, as evolving leaders will be a win-win opportunity in an innovative environment that is stimulating and successful for all.

Tax Risks: strategic personal development objective

The subject of international tax risk for multinationals is growing exponentially every day, although there does not seem to be a significant focus on the commitment in personal development plans for the identification, assessment and / or monitoring of such risks.

Tax risk management is an integral part of all tax professionals focus, although this objective may not be identified to measure accurately and consistently.

For example, if the tax professional is communicating in an audit or appeals process, does the individual have the relevant training for interpersonal skills and understanding the negotiation process to develop a win-win opportunity for efficient resolution?

The timing for next year’s development plan has arrived, thus it might be the right time to consider tax risk with a new focus.

Introverts / Extroverts: Leadership Planning

Suzanne Bates publishes a highly recommended blog including leadership ideas and books to share; a reference to her Blog is accessed by the following link:

Power Speaker Blog by Suzanne Bates: Thoughts on Leadership and the Power of Communication:

A book recently recommended by Suzanne is entitled: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.  It highlights the importance of introverts, including differences in how they work with extroverts.  This book is also included in my Leadership Page: Books to Share.

Several ideas quickly materialize when talking about this subject:

  • Do you present ideas at a meeting necessitating immediate action for introverts and extroverts?  Do introverts have time to reflect and consider such actions prior to solution steps being introduced by extroverts?
  • An analogy for introverts vs. extroverts should also be considered for different cultures and how they work; some being more collaborative while others are more direct.  In a world of increasing diversity, this leadership trait should be practiced, and understood.
  • Are different personality characteristics of the team members understood by the team leader to ensure effective alignment?
  • Is this topic discussed among the team, allowing each member to understand different approaches by different individuals?
  • Are different responses by an introvert and extrovert embraced, including the phrases “I need a little time to think about this idea” and “Great, here is what I think we should do, when can we start?”
  • How do you effectively plan additional time for introverts to think about leading a meeting, or making a presentation?
  • How can introverts be extroverts in certain circumstances?
  • Are different people leading meetings?

Leaders need to understand the power of effectively communicating with different cultures and personalities, including introverts and extroverts.  This skill is often assumed and / or overlooked in career development.  It may be a good time for self-reflection to understand Best Practices, thereby becoming a more effective leader.



Talent challenge, a time for extraordinary leadership: PwC global CEO survey

This timely survey concludes that it is time to take control, due to a required change in the existing mindset within many organizations.  The survey included 1,330 interviews with CEOs in 68 countries.  The traditional approaches to engagement, performance, reward and people issues are becoming less relevant in today’s changing environment.

Click to access the_talent_challenge_a_time_for_extraordinary_leadership_-_final.pdf

Observations from the survey include the following:

  • CEOs in Africa are very confident about growth in 2013, although availability of skills is a problem.
  • A coherent talent strategy, building on the employer brand, should be embedded in the organization’s DNA.
  • Key growth areas for operations: Latin America, South East Asia, Middle East, South Asia and Africa.
  • 77% of CEOs will alter their approach to talent management, and 23% were planning a significant change.
  • Existing people strategy is not fit for purpose.
  • Employees should feel involved in the business as a key pillar of engagement, although 66% of staff were not actively encouraged to be involved in decision-making.
  • Today’s business leaders need to cope with crisis, understand risk and be comfortable with change.
  • Rebuilding trust with employees by creating the right culture and behaviors is a fundamental pillar for shaping the business.

The survey provides valuable insight into today’s leadership challenge for developing, and retaining, superior talent.



Meetings: team collaboration for success

Meetings are designed to be collaborative and solution oriented, with all members of the team aligned going forward.  The author of this article, Fed Kofman, has provided a valuable approach to meetings, with all attendees actively participating and contributing to the overall objective.  The article is thought provoking and insightful to further Best Practices.

Fred Kofman, Ph.D. in Economics, is Professor of Leadership and Coaching at the Conscious Business Center of the University Francisco Marroquín and a faculty member of Lean In. He is the author of Conscious Business, How to Build Value Through Values (also available as an audio progra

Presentation Skills, A Valuable Leadership Attribute

Presentation and negotiation skills are two critical factors that  distinguish an exemplary leader.  Emphasis on these valuable personal attributes should be addressed by everyone continually, and formally reviewed once or more annually to measure success.

This post will address some ideas for the use of presentation skills, with recommended sources of reference.  My prior post, 14 August, discusses negotiation skills and tools for development.

Suzanne Bate’s books and personal coaching camps are highly recommended, with a link provided to her informative website.   I have also updated her power speaker blog on my Recommended Links page. I can personally attest to the valuable lessons learned from her personalized classes.

Suzanne is author of Speak Like a CEO: Secrets for Commanding Attention and Getting Results (McGraw Hill), which went to #6 on the bestseller charts on in 2005. The book has also been published in 5 languages including Chinese, Russian and Indonesian.  Suzanne has since published two more books, Motivate Like a CEO: Communicate Your Strategic Vision and Inspire People to Act!, and Discover Your CEO Brand: Secrets for Embracing and Maximizing Your Unique Value as a Leader, with McGraw Hill, and both books have become business best-sellers on

Some ideas for improving presentation skills include:

  • Different participants should present topic agenda items at meetings.
  • Formalizing presentation training goals in a personal development plan.
  • Organizing presentation exercises / workshops.
  • Practice telling a powerful story, starting with individual passions.
  • Review effectiveness of Power Point presentations for lessons to be learned.
  • Provide a mentor relationship.
  • Encourage individuals to sign up as presenters at relevant conferences.
  • Discuss Best Practices in company publications, providing encouragement for others.
  • Develop a source of Best Practice presentation resources, including those of Suzanne Bates.

The above references and ideas will hopefully provide inspiration for current and future leaders.

The Art of Negotiation: Improve your leadership skills

Negotiation is an art and acquired skill; as such it should be a continuous journey for every tax executive.  Negotiation is used by everyone every day, personally and professionally.  For example, it can be used to develop a win-win result in cross-functional issues with a geographically diverse team or equally in discussions with tax authorities to concisely explain transfer pricing concepts.

In today’s world of tax subjectivity and controversy, negotiation is a requisite (and often neglected) skill for local, regional and global tax teams, as well as other leaders in the business.  Conveying technical tax terms and complicated transactions simply, succinctly and convincingly is a leadership skill that becomes more important as one’s career progresses.  Notwithstanding this necessity, negotiation is a skill that is not an integral part of everyone’s development program.

Books, presentations and conferences are focused on negotiation, and I will pass along some tremendous resources I have used that are easy to read and implement daily.  It is also fun to see  the results!  Gerry Spence, a U.S. renowned trial lawyer, has written the following two books for your consideration:

  • How to Argue and Win Every Time – At Home, at Work, in Court, Everywhere, Every Day
  • Win Every Case: How to Present, Persuade and Prevail – Every Place, Every Time

I highly recommend the above resources, related articles posted herein, and look forward to your ideas on this important leadership topic.

Cover of "How to Argue and Win Every Time...

Cover of How to Argue and Win Every Time

Please ensure you, and your teams, have a negotiation goal for 2013!

New Tax Developments: Creating Efficiency & Effectiveness in a Tax Organization

We are all confronted with receiving several daily emails from many sources focused on the latest developments in all areas of tax: International, Federal, State, Direct / Indirect Taxes including VAT, etc.  Individuals in a tax organization, located in various parts of the world, generally try to browse the latest news for their area of responsibility, creating duplication of effort and the collective loss of valuable time.  Additionally, as tax responsibilities increase with limited talent resources and budget constraints, it becomes exponentially more difficult.  Opportunities may be lost, while risks of “not knowing” are also increasing.  The obligation to use new knowledge effectively could be viewed as a process to potentially gain efficiencies.

The following ideas are provided for consideration:

  • Share great resources and bookmarks with peers within your organization and global network, resulting in a Best Practice resource listing.
  • For tax teams organized by function, assign one team member of each function the daily task of reviewing the relevant sources of new developments, summarizing those articles that may be relevant and distribute to other team members to further investigate the impact upon the company and action steps.  This responsibility should be an objective, and measured, part of their job description to further enhance responsibility and accountability.  This change should create more time for other members within that function also browsing the latest, and often identical, developments.
  • Review the budget for cost/benefit effectiveness; coupled with a link to past success based on utilizing that particular resource.
  • Review fees incurred to obtain information, such as tax treaties, from external parties; could this resource be in-sourced more effectively?
  • Meet with your advisors providing tax developments; discuss the possibility of having them briefly summarize benefits (company specific) from key developments when you receive them, versus a straight transcript of all developments that contain many items that are not relevant.
  • Review key developments monthly within the functions and /or overall team to ensure relevant items are receiving priority and action plans.  This review could be internal, as well as coordinated with external advisors, to ensure there are no gaps.  Proactive advisors should recommend this action for a win-win result to encourage interaction and alignment, while also providing a good opportunity for brainstorming other ideas.
  • Review the legal structure efficiency, at least annually, to determine if business strategies have changed and/or new developments have occurred that provide opportunities.
  • Highlight developments aligned with your strategic tax objectives.
  • Align tax developments with the Tax Risk Framework.

I look forward to your insights.

Tax Leadership Center of Excellence: Be a Mentor

The tax function is unique, as it necessitates collaboration with all functions and levels within an organization.  Additionally, it should be viewed as a talent source for current and potential leaders, knowledge, creativity, planning expertise, governance and Best Practices.  However, individuals not connected to the tax function are often unaware of these valuable attributes that form a valuable resource for others to learn from.  Providing mentor opportunities provide the following benefits for Best Practices in Tax Leadership:

  • Forming additional alliances throughout the organization to achieve a win-win relationship.  
  • Providing a valuable asset for recruiting talent.
  • Increasing awareness of tax risks and roles locally, regionally and globally.
  • Forming a catalyst for Mentor Programs within other functions.
  • Teaching the art of conducting collaborative meetings and achieving buy-in for cross-functional programs.
  • Developing a strong foundation for future leadership roles.
  • Learning the importance of, and distinguishing, legal entity and operating structures.
  • Proactive and interactive leadership training for Tax Team members.
  • Recognition as a Leadership Center of Excellence.
  • Expansion of tax and risk awareness into non-financial functions of the company.

Providing a Tax Leadership Mentor Program will yield a multitude of benefits while increasing awareness and perception of Tax as a highly valued Center of Excellence for current and future leaders.  Partner with Talent Management and Organizational Development to make it happen!

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