The world of finance isn’t what it used to be.
In the past, finance professionals were seen mainly as the ‘number crunchers’ of the business; now senior staff in the finance team have to be more – they form a strategic part of the company, pivotal in ensuring success in a competitive marketplace.
Alongside this development in their role, many finance professionals are finding they are required to lead others – and this has meant they have had to acquire and hone a new set of skills to enable them to proficiently carry out this extension to their role.
While it’s true that some people are born to lead, others find it more complicated to make a move from being a Senior Accountant to additionally leading the finance team.
It’s wise to remember that the best leaders are generally not made overnight. Strong managers need time to develop a multitude of soft skills and techniques to understand how to motivate and lead their finance team to success.
So, if you are a finance professional who is leading a team and you want to develop your skills, or you are thinking of making a move to team leadership – this article is for you. In it, I will be looking at the core skills that will change you from a good finance team leader to a great one.
Firstly, it’s critical to be an excellent communicator.
Communication is paramount to success not only for you as an individual but for your company as a whole. Failure to communicate well can lead to loss of credibility.
There are several methods of communication – written, verbal and non-verbal – and to be a good leader you need to be aware of each, ensuring not only your words but your actions and appearance are communicating clearly to your team and other colleagues.
If you are saying one thing, but your actions or facial expressions are indicating another, you will confuse your finance team and make them doubt what they are being told. So, be conscious of engaging open body language when you communicate.
Additionally, active listening forms a crucial part of communication – the ability to listen to what your team members are saying will provide you with a deeper understanding of their needs, focus and drivers, enabling you to lead more efficiently.
‘You cannot effectively lead someone you don’t understand. You can only motivate and influence a person when you know how they feel.’ (Entrepreneur)
Empathy embodies many great traits for leadership.
A successful finance leader is respectful of the individual and kind to them.
Taking time to get to know your team will instil not only a great workplace culture but will enable you to understand the motivations and personality of each member of your team, and thus be able to get the best out of them.
For example, your Assistant Management Accountant isn’t just the person who sits quietly doing the month-end accounts without joining in the office chat. He or she may be an introvert at work, but they may enjoy hang-gliding at the weekend, or be an accomplished poet. They may have a different learning style to your Finance Manager. If you don’t ask, you won’t know.
Talk to your team over coffee; get to know who they are.
3. Motivational and Inspirational
Successful finance leaders inspire and motivate their team to go the extra mile. If your employees recognise and respect your leadership, they are more likely to willingly volunteer to stay late to help get that KPI reporting suite completed.
There are several ways you can help build motivation and influence your team – including recognition (anything from a courteous ‘thank you’ for a job well done to staff awards), to giving new responsibilities to individuals, thus helping increase their investment in the business.
Your empathy comes into play here too – by understanding what drives your team, you will get to know what works best to motivate each individual and encourage productivity and commitment.
Moreover, allowing for employee autonomy, getting input from the team, and mentoring individuals will help you achieve the best for you and your finance team.
It isn’t always easy for leaders to delegate; to place trust in, and support, their team to work autonomously. But a leader who attempts to take on too many tasks without help will struggle to accomplish anything in the long term.
Delegation isn’t a sign of weakness. On the contrary, a leader who empowers their team shows signs of great leadership.
To successfully delegate, it’s critical to ensure you can identify the skill set of each member of your team so that you can determine their capabilities to carry out tasks; leaving you free to concentrate on other important finance work.
To ensure the respect of the team, a successful finance leader takes responsibly for both the successes and failures of that team.
Accepting your mistakes, using them as a learning curve and moving on, will demonstrate a reliable individual who can handle a difficult situation. Furthermore, a good leader will use adverse incidences as an opportunity to devise clear solutions and put in place procedures to prevent similar occurrences from happening again.
6. Open and Honest
Your finance team need to know that you accept overall responsibility and are trustworthy, ethical and credible. By being honest with them, you will gain their trust and earn their respect.
Additionally, an accountable leader will encourage openness, honesty and integrity in their team – by providing a psychologically safe environment where individuals know they can speak up, be listened to, and be treated fairly.
By setting high standards of honesty and integrity in yourself, you will encourage it in your team.
7. Sense of Humour
Last, but certainly not least, you are going to need a sense of humour!
There will be times when things don’t go to plan – you may lose a client, need to have difficult conversations with individuals, deal with awkward situations or generally find yourself with a large workload.
A sense of humour goes a long way in preserving your mental health at work, but it also helps in establishing an environment where your team know you will handle situations calmly and professionally, that you are not unpredictable, and that you are approachable.
All of which will set you up for success as a leader that others feel they can rely on.
Successful finance leaders lead by example.
Encouraging your team to bring new ideas to the table and work together to realise them will inspire everyone to work harder and instil an inclusive workplace culture where all individuals feel respected contributors.
Being approachable is key to being a great leader; your team are looking for inspiration; whether you have a team of two or two hundred – your leadership will have a direct and positive effect on productivity, staff engagement and success for your business as a whole.
Being a leader takes effort and skill – honing these core skills will ensure your performance, and that of your team is successful and will enable you to build the perfect finance team.
Contact Rebus Financial Recruitment or call us on 01282 930930 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, you can achieve great things.
About Rebus Financial Recruitment
Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, which historically range from a wide variety of organisations including SME’s to large PLCs.
We strive to offer both the client and candidate seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs; and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly. To find out more, get in contact with one of our team today, or you can call us on 01282 930930.