As you progress in your accounting career you will find you take on more and more responsibility.
Eventually you might even find yourself leading an entire finance team.
When you read books or articles on leading it all seems very straightforward.
On the other hand when you have to do it for real things can be very different.
The thing is with leading is that unlike accounting, it carries a lot of unpredictability.
What works in one situation may well fail in another situation. Even where both situations seem very similar.
Of course leading like any skill is something you can learn. Yes there may be some who seem to be naturals. Yet in my experience they are in the minority.
So what would I offer in terms of tips in leading the finance team?
Understand you are leading highly skilled individuals
Chances are a large proportion of your team are qualified or studying. They are smart, committed, skilled and motivated.
They are more likely to respond to being empowered rather than you micromanaging them.
You know what you know. You have certain experience. You have certain skills.
But you don’t know it all.
Accept this and involve people. Utilise the talent at your disposal.
Focus on key areas
As the leader of the finance team a lot of your work should be about driving improvement and finding ways of adding more value to the business.
Work out the key areas of focus and get everyone heading in the same direction.
Set clear expectations
Vague expectations tend to lead to less optimal outcomes or results.
Be clear about what is expected of people in terms of deliverables, behaviours and attitudes.
Hire the best people you can
Even go as far as hiring people who are better than you and the people that you currently have on the team.
Good people on a team tend to raise the standards of the whole team.
Help people meet their career aspirations
Good people are ambitious. If you go out of your way to help them achieve their career aspirations they will go out of their way in most cases to give their very best to the team while part of it.
You can’t be the conductor and musician, the captain and crew and have your finger in every pie.
See yourself as less of a doer and more of an orchestrater.
Get the praise ratio right
It’s claimed that people want a 5:1 praise to negative feedback ratio.
We all know how easy it can be to find fault. Trouble is if all you ever do is find fault people eventually stop trying.
Honesty, integrity and professionalism matter
Don’t under estimate the importance of these three areas. Accountants as professionals see these as vitally important in my experience.
In summary since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them achieve career success and become better leaders and presenters. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.