In my 25 years in accounting and consulting I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to manage and lead teams ranging in number from 3 to 70 people.
Like everyone else, there were times when things went really well and other times when it was a struggle.
So what were 20 things that I learned that would be of help to anyone moving into managing or leading from a professional or technical background?
- It is a different skill set. Accounting and many other professions are a lot about process. Managing and leading is all about people.
- Time is your real limiting factor. When doing costing and management accounting you learn about limiting factors. When you move into managing and leading you realise what the real limiting factor is and it is time. As a result you need to invest it wisely.
- You need to make managing and leading a priority. Otherwise you just keep yourself busy doing things personally rather than getting results through others.
- You need a great team around you and it is worth waiting to find the right people on your team.
- You need to be willing to deal with the difficult stuff like process issues, people performance issues, conflict and change even though it is challenging.
- You need to listen a whole lot more. In fact I would say that listening is the most important aspect of communication and sadly often underutilised.
- Delegating is not optional but a necessity if you want to achieve anything significant.
- You need to have support. That support might be a coach, mentor or sounding board who can help you keep a sense of perspective.
- You cannot spend enough time getting to know your team so that you can get the best from them.
- You need to know what’s critical and what’s not so that you can focus and prioritise.
- You need to know where you perform best and try to spend as much time as you can on the things that you do best.
- You cannot afford to stop learning and it is so easy to forget about your own personal and professional development.
- It is pointless wasting time and energy on conflict or horrible situations when you are in the wrong frame of mind. It is much better to walk away and come back when you are in the right frame of mind.
- In stressful situations it is easy to do or say something that you later regret. Pause before you dive in with two feet into a downward spiral.
- You need to take responsibility even if the consequences for you personally are potentially serious. Passing the buck never works.
- It is vital to keep things in perspective otherwise you lose sight of the bigger picture and what you are trying to achieve.
- Don’t allow one person’s views or opinion to destroy your confidence. Pay attention to patterns of feedback, not to individual views or opinions about you.
- Don’t try to be something you are not. If you are stuck in a role that does not fit with your values or results in excessive compromise it might be time to walk away.
- Never make promises you cannot keep. This merely results in people not trusting you.
- Don’t forget we are all replaceable so don’t fall into the trap of believing that you are indispensible. At the end of the day there is always someone to fill your shoes.
In truth leading and managing is in my experience a never ending process of learning and development.
Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements helps accountants and health professionals to become highly effective leaders and managers. He invites you to sign up for his free audio masterclass on team leadership at https://www.goalsandachievements.co.uk/teamleadership/