Leading and managing is a strange thing. When you are on the outside looking in it can appear really simple.
Of course what looks simple is rarely simple in practice.
In Finance, like many professions we initially focus on the technical aspects. We spend time getting professionally qualified.
Then we get promoted. All of a sudden we have responsibility for managing others which is very different to the technical elements.
If we do well as a manager we might find ourselves in a leadership role with a much wider organisational brief.
At the same leading and managing in Finance brings its own unique challenges.
Firstly you have highly committed people.
Secondly you often have very ambitious people.
Thirdly you have this unique balancing act of focusing on your function and the wider organisation.
For me if you want to lead and manage effectively in finance there are some essential elements to pay attention to.
Essential Element 1: Acceptance
Leading and managing is very different to being technical brilliant or being able to plough through a lot of activity.
There’s a lot less black and white and a lot more grey.
There’s a different expectation.
You can’t do it all on your own no matter how good you are.
Accepting this is core to leading and managing in Finance in my experience.
Essential Element 2: Adapting
If you are like most finance staff you are already busy. Finance staff with nothing to do is a rare in my experience.
The mistake that’s easy to make is to continue operating like you always did.
The risk is you overload yourself.
It’s key that you adapt. Especially around where you allocate your time.
You can’t be 100% focused on task and somehow believe that time for leading and managing will somehow magically appear.
Essential Element 3: Awareness
You may have progressed quickly to leading or managing.
Along the way you probably got plenty of positive feedback.
You probably excelled compared to your peers.
The danger is that you are not so aware of your areas of struggle. Alternatively not being aware of what you don’t know.
You have to be aware of what you do best and where others might be better placed than you to lead or manage.
Essential Element 4: Inclusion
Highly skilled, highly motivated and highly ambitious finance staff want to have a say.
They want to be involved.
You have to lead and manage in a way that gives people the chance to share their thoughts and ideas.
You have to be willing to listen.
You have to act on their ideas.
You have to see your role as more of a conductor or facilitator.
Essential Element 5: Helping
I started out in my career in Finance over 40 years ago at the bottom of the career ladder.
I managed to make it to FD thanks to the help of bosses and peers along the way.
In your team you are going to have people who want to progress, grow and develop.
If you are the leader or manager in finance who helps others to progress in their career, you will benefit in so many ways too.
People will be more supportive, more motivated to do a good job and help you shine.
Essential Element 6: Professionalism
Finance is a profession. You are a professional.
There are going to be difficult challenges along the way. There are going to be frustrations.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, it’s vital that you act with professionalism.
People, not just within your team but more widely, respect you if in the most challenging of situations you show professionalism.
In theory it’s easy to lead and manage in finance. In reality it’s never ending work in progress.