What I Learned About Leading From Being A Finance Director In The NHS

When we start out in our career, most of us want to go as far they can in their career. For me it was always about challenging myself to see if I could perform at the next level.

Over the years I climbed the career ladder from Payments Clerk to Finance Director. So what did I learn about leading from being a Finance Director in the NHS?

You have to invest your time wisely

There is no shortage of things you could be doing but there is a shortage of time. In many ways you have to start thinking of your time a bit like money. Something that you invest wisely.

You can contribute beyond your area of expertise

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of thinking that unless you have detailed knowledge you cannot contribute outside of your professional discipline.

What I realised, especially when I was On Call Director was that in many ways not knowing the detail was a bonus.

You could often see solutions others couldn’t because you did not have a whole set of pre-conceived ideas.

Your team really matters

Every member of your team at every level matters. I was FD of an Acute Trust with serious financial challenges and a real shortage of cash.

Despite this team members in Accounts Payable were doing an amazing job keeping suppliers informed and ensuring continued supply of goods and services.

You have to get the balance right between short and long term

Yes there will always be things that need attention. By the same token it’s important to step back and think about the medium to long term too whether you are part of it or not.

You have to be open and honest with people

When things are tough you have to be willing to hold open sessions with staff across the organisations to have an open and honest discussion otherwise people start to speculate.

It’s hugely challenging and rewarding

Yes the job was tough. Yes there were many challenges and at the same time it was hugely rewarding too.

Relationship building is key

The ability to get through difficult and challenging times is impacted by the quality of relationships. Make a point of building those relationships.

People go above and beyond all of the time and this needs to be recognised

Right across the NHS people work hard and go above and beyond what’s reasonable all of the time.

Its vial to recognise this rather than take this commitment for granted.

Top leadership teams facilitate and support change and improvement

It’s the people on the ground that make it happen.

With seniority comes accountability

This might seem tough but you have to be accountable for results.

Change and improvement takes time

There is no silver bullet or magic formula.

Leadership is shown at all levels among all professional groups

No one or handful of leaders at the top can do it all.

Treat everyone as if they are the most important person

Every role contributes something significant. Never forget this.

Duncan Brodie helps accountants and professionals to become effective leaders and managers. Learn more here.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 7,000 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.

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