One of my mentors has a phrase he likes to say about the importance of people development — Productive People Produce Profits Period! He understands that great organizations are made up of great people. I believe leaders’ ability to develop people around them is a critical skill and increasingly important in today’s knowledge economy.
When I first started studying leadership, I was influenced by bestselling author John Maxwell, who said, “Leadership is influence. Leaders who mentor potential leaders multiply their effectiveness.” I was struck by the importance of developing yourself and taking the time to invest in the lives of others. As I have studied great leaders, they share a quality of lifting others up to be their best. They realize that business is a team sport and not a solo endeavor.
Joey Havens, executive partner of HORNE LLP, is one of those leaders who strongly believe in the value of developing other leaders. Havens is a native of Batesville and graduated from football powerhouse South Panola High School, but he is quick to point out he was a baseball player. He earned a business degree from Ole Miss and received his CPA license in 1983. Out of college, he worked for two different CPA firms before joining HORNE in 1984 and has remained there ever since. Havens’ drive and determined spirit helped him achieve promotion into the partnership at the age of 30. Havens shared, “Making partner at what some then considered a young age provided me the opportunity to network, collaborate and interact with more leaders in our firm. I was able to learn from them in direct and indirect way. It was at this point, I believe, that my personal growth really accelerated.”
With his growth, the firm continued to expand his roles and responsibilities, and he took on leadership responsibility as the partner in charge of health care services which became his primary focus area for a number of years. He later assumed the reins of HORNE’s disaster recovery practice and managed that team until 2012.
Havens emphasized that, “One of the reasons I love HORNE so much is that it has always been an entrepreneurial firm that focused on people and growth. That is why I have spent 29 years of my career focused on leadership development with HORNE.” One of his first real leadership experiences began as a manager with the firm working in tax and audit services in North Mississippi. He said, “In many ways, it was that school of hard knocks mentality. Learn from your mistakes until you figured it out.” Havens is a passionate lifelong learner, so he began to read personal development and leadership books at an early age. This passion for knowledge assisted him in his own personal growth, and he in turn has developed a passion for sharing his own knowledge with others. In fact, he collaborated with Dr. Joe Paul to write the book Creating Value, Your 90 Day Plan to Right Tracking Your Career.
Early in his career, Havens says he learned that leadership is not about a title or position.He stated, “In fact, in my opinion, some of the best leaders in organizations today lead effectively without a specific title. A title certainly doesn’t make me or anyone else a leader.” He advises young leaders not to wait for a title, position or promotion to lead. He said, “Everyone can lead and do extraordinary things for their team.”
Havens’ core leadership philosophy is rooted in servant leadership. He said, “It is my primary responsibility to serve my God, my family, my team and my clients first. It is not about me, it is about the people I have the privilege of serving.” He continued, “My purpose in life is to help others see and achieve their full potential.” Havens believes that leadership requires a sense of vision with a common purpose that empowers people to do extraordinary things. He emphasized, “Everybody within a team must lead for a team to be great. It’s never about one individual. I believe that exhibiting a positive attitude and having the uncommon discipline to create a laser focus on your purpose are critical character traits for effective leadership.”
With 37 partners and more than 485 team members in 12 offices, HORNE has become a major player in the accounting industry since its inception in 1962. As Havens leads in his newest role as executive partner of the firm, his colleagues and clients will be well served by his leadership skills and humble philosophy of leadership.
» Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.