As accounting recruitment specialists, we literally interview thousands of accountants and controllers every year. We know what accounting teams are looking for and also understand who gets hired and who gets promoted. Here are five of the accounting leadership qualities that fast-growing companies look for in their leaders.
There are numerous books in the marketplace explaining how to be an exceptional leader. Some say that leaders are inspirational motivators. Others emphasize the role of strategic planning, honesty, and integrity. But the best accountants possess certain leadership qualities so that they can lead not only from the front but also in the trenches with their team.
Leadership qualities to hone in on
The best accountants use a collaborative model for solving problems. Strong leaders know how to bring people together in constructive ways, so that they can brainstorm workable solutions. This collaborative approach helps encourage buy-in, build trust, and create a higher level of involvement amongst their team members.
Attention to detail
In an accountant’s world, strong attention to detail can define success or failure. The best accountants are accurate, thorough and detail-oriented in their work. More so, they are up to date on changing regulations, new software and reporting procedures. Beyond attention to detail in your deliverables, it’s also important to note what’s happening with your team. If you keep a pulse on what is happening with your team, what contributes to high productivity (or vice versa), you can be more proactive about offering solutions.
The best accountants demonstrate an unwillingness to compromise their ethics. They understand that people are depending on them to present a true and accurate picture of the company’s present position. They know that while there is always room for interpretation in accounting standards, the latitude for grey areas is limited. Their commitment to accurate reporting, consistent with the ethical behaviour expected throughout their industry, are true leadership qualities.
Exceptional financial leaders are constantly trying to add value to the business. They look at such things as team metrics, rather than just monthly reports. They have a strategic mindset, as opposed to a narrowly cost-centred mindset. The best accountants ask “where are we going next?” – not just “where have we been?” Beyond using trends and data to forecast financial performance, true leaders are also thinking about the qualities needed in their team now and into the future. There may not be a need for systems expertise now, but in a few months when you’re upgrading your ERP, a proactive leader would begin planning to fill gaps when before the time comes.
They also demonstrate a strong willingness to learn, whether it’s a technological innovation or a new process. They learn quickly and apply that knowledge in a way that drives value for the company.
The best accountants ask “where are we going next?” – not just “where have we been?”
Leadership by example
True leaders lead by example. They model qualities such as attention to detail, proactive thinking and ethical behaviour. In turn, their teams demonstrate similar behaviours, following the culture established by the leader. Together, they establish a pattern of success and help their companies reach key milestones.
While there are a number of ways to demonstrate leadership, the best accountants understand that in order to be a true leader, you must exhibit these leadership qualities on a daily basis.
Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to connect with us on Linkedin for more great tips and advice!