The Must-Have Qualities of an Effective Finance Leader

There is a saying that people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. If you want to affect change, it makes sense that people must trust you and the way you see the world. Building this foundation is a critical step in being an effective finance leader. Here are the qualities that enable a finance leader to take their team to the next level. 

Trait #1 – Lead By Example
Do you want your team to communicate collaboratively, work hard and be open to new ideas? The best thing you can do as a finance leader is to model these traits.

Trait #2 – Build Business Partnerships
When Finance is seen as a true business partner, everybody wins. Work cross- functionally to develop KPI’s with marketing and sales. Be an advocate for IT and position Finance as the bridge between IT and the rest of the organization. Work hard to understand each department’s drivers to maximize value.

Trait #3 – Process Re-engineering
Commit to continuous improvement. Become a source of innovation by identifying processes that are in need of re-engineering and implement the changes needed to bring about increased efficiency and accuracy.

Read: “10 Traits of Innovative Leaders” from the Harvard Business Review for more information on traits that unite innovative managers.

Trait #4: Communication with Team
In a blog entitled “Is Your Finance Team On Fire and Not in a Good Way” we explore the red flags that you can’t ignore as a finance leader. Communicating with your team prevents many of these red flags from happening in the first place. Schedule one-on-one meetings with each team member. Offer feedback and be open to hearing concerns. Solicit input from team members and be quick to clarify misunderstandings. Try to be concise in your communication and practice active listening. 

ReadHow to Give Feedback” for tips on how to offer constructive feedback in a way that creates buy-in and increases productivity.

Trait #5: Integrity 
Transparency is fundamental to effective leadership. Be genuine and principled. If you demonstrate integrity, your employees will follow suit.

Trait #6: Delegate 
Work to empower others by delegating tasks that don’t require your attention. Micromanaging can undermine the confidence of your team. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good [people] to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

Read: Do you have a tendency to micromanage? Read this blog

Trait #7: Become a Mentor 
Build tomorrow’s future finance leaders by establishing a formal mentoring program. Identify each employee’s career goals and determine if you can help him or her achieve them.

Trait #8: Recognize Success 
John Maxwell said, “A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” Celebrate achievement. Recognize and reward good work. After all, when someone feels valued, they’re likely to extend themselves and go the extra mile.

Key Takeaways
Effective finance leaders create an environment that facilitates success. They build business partnerships, have strong communication skills and work hard to model the traits they’d like to see in their team. Most of all, they’re mentors, who celebrate their team’s achievements and work hard to create professional growth in others. 

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