What Does It Take To Break Through Into Senior Management?

Working as an accountant in major organisations for over 25 before setting up my own business in 2006, what I consistently noticed is that it was not the most technically gifted people who got to the more senior level posts.

I know that even though I climbed the career ladder from a Payments Clerk to Finance Director, I was not the most technically gifted accountant.

On the other hand I was always interested in the organisations I worked in, was able to build relationships and take on challenges. Contrary to many people I found having the opportunity to manage and lead people and be involved in key projects really rewarding.

Of course like most people I made mistakes and tried to learn from them.

So I am wondering what other people find it takes for people to break through into senior management?

Would love to hear your views and insights, so why not go ahead and leave a comment.

Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements helps accountants make the breakthrough from highly regarded technical professionals to highly effective managers and leaders. To sign up for his Weekly Leadership and Management Tips click here

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. 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.

Leave a Comment:

Toni Hunter says 27 May 2010

Sounds very similar to me. I am surrounded by a great team, most of whom are more technically astute than me, but I offer drive and a sense of commercialism as well as being able to talk to clients at their level.

Mark Hirschfeld says 28 May 2010

I agree. The talents and skills for a leader of a group are different than being and individual contributor in the group. Some folks should stay in individual contributor roles because that is the best expression of who they are, but there are others who can, and should, hone their potential to be effective leaders. This just came up with a client yesterday, who noted that some of his best sales producers wouldn’t make the best sales managers. His best sales manager right now is one who takes great pride in working to develop his team, think strategically about the future (is already planning for 2012) and carefully selects sales people who he thinks fit their unique culture. As a profession we should spend more time helping great individual contributors grow and, at the same time, develop the potential of some who can become outstanding leaders.

Duncan Brodie says 28 May 2010

Hi Toni

Commercialism and the ability to build relationships are absolutely key and great to hear you are surrounded by great people.

Thanks for your contributions.


Duncan Brodie says 28 May 2010


Great insights and as you rightly say the best people at doing the job are not always the best to manage and lead.

Too often in my experience appointments are made based on what people have done rather than what potential they have for the future more challenging role.


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