What is good financial leadership? A recent survey of 1,500 financial executives revealed that only 11.5 percent actually qualified as leaders, despite being in a unique position to lead. What does it take to be known as a good financial leader? Is it finding the right business systems or accounting software for your company? Or is it being a go-getter, a decision-maker, and a resource-finder for your teams?
It’s this and more. The characteristics and traits of a good financial leader are like those of any other leader. As a financial executive, you’re a strategic partner to other executives. Your access to vast amounts of data and the resulting unique perspective that gives you during the decision-making process puts you in a strategic position to boost business performance, governance, efficiency, risk management, and compliance across the enterprise.
So, what does it take to be a good financial leader? And do you have what it takes?
More than Counting Beans: What It Takes to Lead
- Ethical foundation: All leaders must have a solid ethical foundation. Financial leaders need a strong ethical framework from which to base their decisions. Accountants and CFOs must be rigorously and scrupulously honest, providing the clearest picture they can of the business' situation and finances so that managers can make decisions. Without the foundation of honesty, business leaders will make decisions based on incorrect assumptions and data.
- Work-life balance: All work and no play does indeed make Jack or Jill dull. Good leaders understand that while hard work is valuable, family relationships and friendships, health and wellness, and a spiritual foundation are all equally important. Good leaders prioritize their families, engage in physical exercises and other pursuits to cultivate wellness. Work-life balance is an integral part of a whole person and one of the hallmarks of a mature leader.
- Leading by example: Good leaders do not make demands or act as dictators. Instead, they lead by example. They exhibit the personal characteristics and work routines that they desire others in the company to follow.
- Peer and subordinate relationships: Leaders also cultivate good working relationships with both peers and subordinates. They interact just as well with the CEO as with the cleaning crew. They know the importance of teamwork and that the company is made up of teams working harmoniously, not one superstar or leader who gets all the glory.
- Cross-functional teams: Strong leaders are also equally well-versed in other jobs aside from their own and can step into a task, if needed. They understand the work of others and demonstrate respect for others’ competencies.
- Clear communications: One of the most notable attributes of a strong leader is their ability to clearly communicate goals, objectives, and related information. They not only communicate as necessary but communicate proactively, offering information that’s helpful to others working on projects. They don’t guard or hold information to themselves.
One of the ways you can lead and promote a cross-functional team is by integrating the best accounting software for your business’ needs. The system should provide an intuitive interface that is easy enough for everyone from your CPAs to your most basic user to navigate. Make sure it can pull the exact reports you need, and can do so quickly and accurately, allowing you to be nimble in decision-making and business planning.
If you’re not yet checking all the boxes of a good financial leader, it’s not too late! Find a mentor through peer groups, LinkedIn, or professional organizations who will help you build your strengths and manage your areas of improvement. And. find yourself a good accounting software.
Need help on that last point? PositiveVision has been helping clients large and small find the perfect accounting software solutions for their businesses for more than 15 years. Contact us today and let us help set you on the path to not just good but great financial leadership.