The Finance Leader Podcast

081: Finance and Accounting Professionals Becoming Leaders

April 12, 2022 Stephen McLain Season 10 Episode 1
The Finance Leader Podcast
081: Finance and Accounting Professionals Becoming Leaders
Show Notes Transcript

When Finance and Accounting professionals combine their technical knowledge and skills with leadership, we will see an amazing transformation in every organization. Successful Finance and Accounting Leaders skew to the strategic and learn how to positively influence and advise senior leaders, so they help deliver the strategy. An effective leader works to empower their team, to develop influence to bring positive change, and will work to find a solution when financial expectations have not been met. Leading during adversity is the real challenge. 

Episode outline:
1) Leaders skew toward the strategic,
2) Combine Leadership with finance and accounting technical expertise,
3) Use leadership when financial expectations fall short, and
4) Leadership tools to use every day.

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Consider joining The Finance Leader Podcast Community Facebook Group, where we can talk leadership and the other topics I present here on the podcast.  This is a good time to jump in and start sharing ideas and thoughts about leadership so we can help each other.

For more resources, please visit On the website, you can download the Leadership Growth Blueprint for Finance and Accounting Managers. You can use this guide to develop your leadership by focusing on communication, and growing and empowering your team.

You can now purchase a course to help you advance your career from It's called Advance Your Finance and Accounting Career: Developing a Promotion Strategy that Sets You Apart.

Stephen McLain:

I believe that when finance and accounting professionals combined our technical knowledge and skills with leadership, we will see amazing transformation in every organization. Successful finance and accounting leaders skew to the strategic and learn how to positively influence and advise senior leaders, so they help deliver the strategy. An effective leader works to empower their team to develop influence to bring positive change, and will work to find a solution when financial expectations have not been met. Leading during adversity is the real challenge. Please enjoy the episode. Welcome to the finance leader podcast where leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host, Stephen McLean. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. Please consider following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. My usernames and links are in the episodes show notes. Also, please join the Facebook group I have for this podcast community. Thank you. This is episode number 81. And I'll be talking about finance and accounting professionals embracing leadership so they can positively impact their organization. And I'll highlight the following topics. Number one, leaders skew toward the strategic number two, combined leadership with finance and accounting technical expertise. Number three, use leadership when financial expectations fall short. And for I will discuss a few leadership tools to use every day. John Maxwell said leaders become great not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others. Now, Welcome to Season 10 of the podcast. My hope is always to help finance and accounting professionals to learn leadership and to embrace becoming a leader in their organization. So they can influence positive outcomes and open up opportunities for themselves. Be comfortable in taking the risk so you can advance your career. We do know the numbers. We know how to do journal entries, we know how to do projections, we know how to prepare the financial statements. We know how to prepare spreadsheets with data. But do we know how to apply leadership to these tasks. So we can help decision makers, our senior leaders and many other leaders around the company to do their jobs better. It's useful and relevant information that strengthens leaders to go forward with the strategy or to make critical changes. A nice shiny title does not make you a leader. It's an attitude and approach a vision and as being dedicated to making everyone around you better than they were yesterday. Yes, you have to learn how to properly motivate people. And yes, you will have to deal with people on a daily basis. But what is also great, you get to be a positive influence in their lives. Leadership becomes a lifestyle choice. When you embrace becoming a leader, you believe you can change the world, you believe you can create a better place for everyone you come in contact with. People look to dedicated strong leaders during times of adversity and confusion. They look to leaders to solve problems. They look to great leaders to provide a fair environment where everyone who works hard can get an opportunity for something greater and bigger than what they were doing today. As finance and accounting professionals, we know the numbers, we love the numbers. We love showing what the numbers have done. And we love charts and data tables. And we hope every month that the numbers will be good that we will meet or exceed financial expectations. Now this takes leadership. It takes even more dedicated form of leadership when the numbers fall short of expectations. This will take a commitment to solve problems. This will take a commitment to not be afraid to tell the truth and to not gloss over trends and issues that are not good news. When we deal in good news each month, it's easy to lead. But what do you do when we don't meet expectations for several months in a row? How can you help decision makers turn it around now that takes dedicated leadership. I believe that when finance and accounting professionals change their perspective, from being the technical expert to being a leader, we will see amazing change in the organization, leading with the numbers leading better processes and leading so that we can better execute the strategy. But this takes a partnership with senior leaders with metric owners, with department heads and with everyone involved with those metrics. I need you all to find the courage to speak up when it's warranted. And when it's needed to present a valid argument when it comes to the data and information you're seeing and analyzing every day. To strengthen your validity you must be considered reliable and trustworthy. Not only in your job competence, but also in your character, you must be consistent, you must be reliable, relatable, technically competent, and possess an undeniable work ethic. Learning leadership should be at the top of your priorities in your individual development plan. Once you get identified as a leader doors will open, I believe that, but it requires more than just doing your everyday tasks. It requires knowing and understanding the business as a whole. So what can you do to be a leader and make an impact, you can bridge gaps and communication. If you pay attention closely, you will see them also find insights no one else is seeing dig into the metrics and become an expert. But you just don't show those numbers link a number to a solution, which can also mean you go back to bridging gaps. And to do that effectively, you have to speak your stakeholders language effectively. So more on all this later. As finance and accounting professionals, we can make a difference by going beyond our technical expertise. Instead of only presenting the numbers. Let's show what the numbers mean. What do they mean to that senior leader? This also means we have to build our relationships around the company. So we can learn more about the metrics we are responsible for go beyond the numbers. I cannot cover everything in this episode, because there's so much involving how we learn and apply leadership. But what can we do to affect decision making today and in the future, so challenge yourself to go beyond the numbers embrace leadership? Now let's talk about finance and accounting professionals learning and embracing leadership. Number one, leaders skew toward the strategic you think about tomorrow or only what you must get done today, ask yourself, what are we trying to accomplish in the long term, our efforts should be strategically aligned. And I don't like feeding information to senior leaders, just to give them information, it must be value added and relevant to the discussion. Don't waste their time with extra that doesn't add value. The senior leaders have committed themselves in the organization to a strategy and they need relevant, accurate and as close to real time information. So they can make the proper decisions and course corrections as possible. So that is why finance and accounting professionals must skew toward the strategic Yes, we do tasks every day to fulfill the everyday business. These must be done. We generate financial statements, for example, but keep looking forward, find relevant data trends, challenge your own models and processes. So they support a strategic mindset. Number two, leadership and technical expertise are a winning combination. Have you heard that your technical skills will get you in the door, but it is the soft skills that will take you far it's true. And leadership is one of those skills, I don't want you to only work the numbers each day, my desire for you, no matter your role is to ask yourself, how are your daily tasks supporting the strategy? And when you have the answer, I want you to ask yourself, how you can help decision makers more in the execution of their duties. And when you have the answer, I want you to ask yourself, how can you help decision makers more in the execution of their duties, so their areas of responsibility are successful. If we all do that, we can increase the chance of the company being more successful. your technical skills alone will only carry you so far, they are important, but continue to grow your technical knowledge from the everyday understanding how a metric acted to how departments and different areas of the business work together to meet the needs of the customer. And then mix in key principles of Strategic Finance, like understanding startup costs, competitive advantage in forecasting, but also learning how to recommend a key decision using rates of return and finally, being the one to make the decision within a formal strategic framework. Or maybe not making the decision after all, because something may be missing. So look for ways to go one more step beyond the numbers so you can lead those you're presenting those numbers to make a difference. Don't just present a number. Number three, use leadership when financial expectations are not met. When the numbers are good, everything is good. When your company is experiencing good financial times, your job becomes a little easier. As your metrics are delivered. Everyone is happy, the numbers are good. In accounting, we will always be reporting what happened as long as we are using proper accounting techniques. And following the law accounting is good. On the finance side, we always need to find out what happened. Why did the metric behave as it did? dealing with adversity and finding out why a metric failed to meet expectation requires more than just reporting the numbers and guessing and it requires more than blaming or finding an excuse. It takes leadership to solve a problem especially a systemic problem, it requires bridging a gap of understanding. And often those responsible for delivering that metric may feel vulnerable and fearful. It takes leadership to determine root causes, and then even more leadership to drive a solution, not an impatient solution that solves the problem in the short term, but a solution that can help the company turn itself around in the long term. Number four leadership tools to use every day. The first is to bridge gaps in communication. And in understanding, you are measuring metrics. But these metrics don't do operate in a vacuum, they operate together, and they work together to deliver the financial expectations of the company. So find opportunities to bridge gaps and communication between senior leaders between department heads, and between those that are responsible for metrics that actually is supposed to work together. The second one is to find a new but useful insight that can provide the context that senior leaders are missing. This is something unique that may add incredible value. So you may have to look at the data in a different way. And think how you can improve your monthly close process. I covered this topic in Episode 28. The next is to learn how to communicate in the stakeholders language. Learn what is important as you work with senior leaders and others responsible for the metrics you Analyze. Learn the language so you can communicate better learn the key terms, and what matters most to them. Speak in these terms as you present your findings, match your findings in the language that they use every day. Next, prioritize your effort. So you work on the most important tasks first, urgent doesn't mean important, I am looking for impact and what value is most created. Be careful what you say yes to and always state where requests for data ranks and all your tasks. And then finally, when you get to lead others and power them to act, this takes risk. And it takes some training on what to do when and to have the courage to take action without asking first. But this is key to leveraging the talent that is available, your team can get more done, your team can focus even more on delivering value, and you can focus on your duties a lot more. As you know, I believe that leadership is key to becoming a respected finance and accounting professional. It is important to go beyond the numbers to deliver the context and deeper understanding of what is going on financially in the company. Just because we have money in the bank doesn't mean that everything is going well. You have to dig deeper, and you have to know the future. Find the insights that you can make an impact and know where the economy in the industry is going. And that can help solidify your future opportunities. Now for action today. Do you have learning leadership skills in your individual development plan? If not, I want to encourage you to look at some key leadership skills to add in its leadership combined with your knowledge of finance and accounting that can increase your chance to advance and then you combine that with a strategic Outlook, you will be able to find more opportunities. One last question, Are you afraid to fall if you step out of your comfort zone? Once you step up for more responsibility, you will be required to do more to perform at a higher level and to make an impact. I know that you want to do more but what is holding you back. You know you want to make changes and that you want to lead make that decision to commit to becoming a leader right now. So you can do it. Lead positive change in your organization, you can do it. Don't forget to grab my free guide for you called the leadership growth blueprint for finance and accounting managers. Are you a finance or accounting professional who is also leading people, but have questions about how to lead more effectively. I know you are expected to be the technical expert in our field. Learning leadership can set you apart from your peers, which can then lead you to more opportunities. In the free guide I talked about three leadership areas communication, team development and empowerment. Plus a few recommendations around challenges with the financial systems you are using to complete your work. The link to this free guide is in the post or the bio. You can also go to Finance leader to download it. Please use the guide to help you with a few leadership wins today. Thank you. Today I talked about finance and accounting professionals learning and embracing leadership. And I highlighted the following points number one, leaders skew toward the strategic number two combined leadership with finance and accounting technical expertise. Number three, use leadership when financial expectations fall short. And for I shared a few leadership tools that you can use every day. I love talking about leadership. It's important and critical to your rear is important and how we can make a positive impact in our company and continually grow our business acumen. So we can do our part and growing the business and supporting the strategy. I could not cover everything in this one episode. But if you lead with character, and know when to start switching from your hard technical skills to those critical soft skills, then you will begin to open opportunities for yourself. Next week, I will be sharing key social skills we need to learn and apply. We sometimes forget how we act socially can affect our potential. So it's an important topic to discuss, and more important than ever, as companies are trying to get back to the office again. I hope you enjoyed the finance leader podcast I am dedicated to helping you grow your leadership skills, to change your mindset and to clarify your goals so you advance your career. You can find this episode wherever you listen to podcasts. If this episode helped you today, please share it with others. Please leave a quick review so that others may find the podcast. Until next time, you can check out more resources at finance leader and sign up for my weekly updates so you don't miss an episode of the show. And now go lead your team and I'll see you next time. Thank you