The Finance Leader Podcast

062: What Leaders Do

August 24, 2021 Stephen McLain Season 7 Episode 6
The Finance Leader Podcast
062: What Leaders Do
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Show Notes Transcript

The most important responsibility leaders have is to grow other leaders. The first task a great leader will do is to build trust and that begins with our own actions, our attitude, and our behavior. We often get overwhelmed with the tasks, but I want you to shift from a task-focus to a  people-focus leadership style. Lead and set a great example, build trust, and empower your team to create an incredible environment for your team to grow.

Episode outline:

  1. Build trust,
  2. Provide clarity within the team,
  3. Develop others, and 
  4. Let’s talk about a few leaders tools we have.

I have something for you. 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.

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Stephen McLain:

This week I am talking about what leaders do. I encourage you to go beyond the numbers. The most important responsibility leaders have is to grow other leaders. The first task a great leader will do is to build trust. And that begins with our own actions, our attitude and our behavior. We often get overwhelmed with the tasks, but I want you to shift from a task focus to a people focused leadership style, lead and set a great example. build trust, and empower your team to create an incredible environment for your team to grow. Please enjoy the episode. Welcome to the finance leader podcast where leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host Stephen McLain. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. This is episode number 62. And I'll be talking about what leaders do and I will highlight the following topics number one, build trust. Number two, provide clarity within the team. Number three, develop others. And four, let's talk about a few leaders tools that we have. author and speaker john Maxwell said a leader is one who knows the way goes the way and shows the way. Learning leadership and developing key soft skills provides the way to achieving CFO and even CEO performing your regular duties every day will not get you elevated to the C suite.Becoming a super expert at Microsoft Excel will not get you promoted. But developing your leadership skills and soft skills like strategic communication can and developing your executive presence can help you achieve that chance at CFO.My goal for this podcast is to help those finance and accounting professionals, like directors, managers and individual contributors to achieve CFO and even CEO. And that takes a plan and it takes your commitment. What will be required is for you to invest in yourself. And you need a written plan with goals and a timeline.You must think differently and find opportunities to grow and to stand out. Every time you work on a high visibility project outside your normal duties. You grow your experience.Every time you get to present your numbers to senior leaders,you grow and develop and that is my goal for you. To do something extraordinary and to recognize that you must go beyond the numbers and beyond your daily to do list to advance. The finance leader podcast is about highlighting the need for finance and accounting professionals to grow their leadership. We are already expected to be technical experts. My desires for you to exercise your leadership to influence positive outcomes, and to assist senior leaders execute the strategy. Additionally, to help you with developing your leadership and to help you achieve a plan for your career,I offer a course called advance your career developing a promotion strategy that will set you apart. The course has six modules, and 17 lessons with worksheets for each lesson that addresses these leadership principles. As it relates to you accomplishing your long term goal. The link is in the show notes or you can go to finance leader to find the course and an episode about what leaders do. There's a variety of topics that I could cover. But for me, it comes down to your team. Leaders grow and develop other leaders. they facilitate better communication. They remove obstacles and prioritize the effort. They provide a way and give hope during adversity.And during a crisis in finance and accounting. We focus on the numbers so much. It is our core capability, and that we often forget what our purpose is. It's the grow other leaders behind all those numbers are people.What do you believe the numbers represent? It's hard work is commitment and delivering value to the customers. The numbers mean more than just numbers.When you report that year over year sales increased. What does that mean? It means a sales team found additional sales, they committed more, they may have developed new ideas or found new clients. Those are the key people behind that number on a page or on a slide. Leadership is more than the numbers. It's the development and care for others. This week, I am talking about what leaders do. Now what kind of leader Do you want to be? So let's start with the kind of leader that you want to follow. How do you want to be treated? Do you want your leadership to ensure you're taking care of are focused on your growth and advancement and take you seriously when you ever can cerned. And when you have a new idea, we definitely do. I want you to be that leader and more, I want you to build trust every day. And that begins with you, you must take the risk of trusting first trusted the very foundation of any relationship,whether it's at work with family and friends, and with our significant other. So our role as leader is to grow other leaders. It's really to grow our replacement, the next generation of leaders. And this takes a forward thinking approach, and a different mindset that is focused on our team instead of only the tasks that seem to overwhelm us every day. So let's talk about a few key points about what leaders do. Now.Number one, I said that before,we must build trust. Now I've talked about building trust often, I talked about it a few minutes ago. Trust is the substance that helps a team go from mediocre results to excellence. And I'll say that again, trust is the substance that helps a team go from mediocre results to excellence.And it begins with us. It begins with our attitude, our behavior,and our approach to how things go on and our team, our team will emulate us, and our team members will not take risk if they believe you will not back them up during a tough task. We accomplish this best when we acknowledge and eliminate the bias that we have. We all have some kind of bias some way that we unfairly judged people before we truly know them. This is key to building trust and building a cohesive team that can rise above mediocrity. So please build trust begins with you. It begins with you doing the same things you're asking your team to do. It begins with you trusting your team first,following through on the actions you say you will do. It is about you showing the very same behavior that you're expecting your team to do. Number two,provide clarity on the team. Now who likes confusion? Who likes not knowing what is the most important task to get done?Well, no one does. Why does your team even exist? What does your team contribute to the overall mission of the organization?Have you communicated that to them? As much as you can always go back to why the team exists?And what they do is important to the overall success. Now, do your team members know what is going on? Is information being withheld on a normal basis? Or is it being shared? This goes to building trust. No one likes to be left on the outside, people will develop their own conclusions. If you don't talk about tough subjects that are going on in the organization. I believe in sharing as much information as possible.Sometimes you can't. But a lot of times you can share the information. Some leaders withhold information. I believe there's no harm in sharing information. transparency, is a core task. It's a core value that should be practiced by more companies and more leaders.People leave over no transparency, good people leave because you're not transparent about what is going on. With its on the team, the department or in the organization as a whole.Providing clarity helps our team members to better figure out how they should prioritize their day, their tasks, and that the work they're doing matters. As leaders, we can eliminate any confusion around what is expected. Or if the company is going through change or having trouble. I believe we need to communicate what is the leader who clears the pathway for your team, who communicates openly and clearly.And who sets the team up for success. Number three, you need to be developing others. Our primary goal is to grow other leaders, I believe that we need to become comfortable taking risk and developing our team.That means having them do tasks that puts them out front and presenting to senior leaders. It means not proofreading or checking every number. It means that a mistake is okay.Sometimes making a mistake is where the best growth occurs.You just have to be comfortable with it easier for some, and this will be more difficult for some of you to do it, but do it.It's what leaders do. We have to take the risk we have to grow other people. And in doing so they're going to make some mistakes and share each team member including yourself has an individual development plan that addresses goals. It has a timeline and what skills that must be developed you have to have one to not just your team members. When you empower someone you give them life, you give them energy to act and you give them incredible purpose and you will discover that they will get it done you probably will be pleasantly amazed when you trust and empower instead of micromanaging and retaining all the control so never forget primary goal is to grow other leaders. Number four. Now let's discuss a few leader tools that we have. We do have a few leadership tools that we have to shape and facilitate clear communication, to set clear expectations, and to synchronize the work effort. The first one is the back brief. We use this in the military every day, I love this one. Every moment we use this, the back brief is a great tool, it facilitates clear communication. When discussing a key task with a team member, it will help both of you, if you have that person repeat back to you what you're asking them to get done. It helps clear up what is expected, it provides an opportunity to ask questions to to ensure that effective communication has actually happened. So use the back brief.You assign someone a task, you go through the details, then you have that person. Repeat back to you exactly what you're asking them to do. It only takes a moment. It clears up everything.And that person gets to ask a few questions. It's important,it's a critical tool that we get to use to to set up clear communication. The second one is the weekly team meeting. I love the weekly team meeting. It provides an opportunity to gather everyone and figure out what the obstacles are. And to clear up issues. This should be the place to communicate what is going on in the company. So you eliminate confusion and even rumors. And sure the team members address where they need help. And it's not a rundown of everything they are doing. So you save time, have each team member address where they need help, what obstacle do they need help overcoming and also, what do you need to do to synchronize effort across the team, maybe one person needs some help in this area, and another member of the team can help in that area.And this is the time to address that, where you have the whole team in a room. Now the next tool are the one on one sessions with each team member. I love these two. This is where you get to focus on individual development needs. Doing this weekly is ideal, but every other week is good too. These sessions are gold for communication and setting expectations and for development. So if you're not doing this, start scheduling them, they will have a huge return on your time investment.Your team members will improve and so will you so get these one on one sessions scheduled. Try to do them at least every other week at the beginning. But ideally try to do them every week, it will be great. It'll be great for them, it'll be great for you. Now our role as a leader can push us in many directions. Control your day before it controls you. That's my advice. Be on top of your calendar, block time to think and plan. And don't be afraid to delegate important tasks you would normally perform yourself.Because it develops your team and helps you free up a little bit of times you can think and plan and to synchronize and to help facilitate communication you have the same time during the day is everyone else time is a limited resource. So ensure that you are managing well. Now for action today. Consider what I have discussed today in a session on leadership ability.Do you need to work on some of the critical tasks of leadership? And do you understand why it will be leadership that will set you apart? Now this is important.Now let's review a few key tasks. Number one, do your team members trust each other? Do they trust you? And do they trust the organization? Number two, what are you doing to eliminate confusion and obstacles in the daily work process? Do your team members understand what are the most important tasks to work on?Number three, what are you doing to develop others? Are you willing to take risk to develop a team member which means it may not be perfect? Are you willing and can you deal with a mistake in front of others. But in the long run you realize you're creating a leader for the future. And number four, what are you also doing to take back your day as far as time management, we can all become overwhelmed by tasks but we need to manage and take better control of our time. So please review these issues and make adjustments as necessary. You probably can't do all of these at once so please focus around building trust first, and then also getting control of your calendar. This episode is sponsored by my website finance leader Academy calm and my career development course called advance your career, developing a promotion strategy that will set you apart. To achieve your career goals. You must be willing to take a risk to set yourself apart from your peers,finance and accounting professionals are already expected to be technically competent. This course helps you establish your professional foundation and how you can set yourself apart from your growing your leadership skills and developing your executive presence. You can go to finance leader for more details on this career advancement course The link is also in the show notes for this episode. Thank you. Today I talked about what leaders do and highlighted the following points. Number one, build trust.Number two, provide clarity within the team, three, develop others. And four, we talked about a few leaders tools that you can use one last thought about developing your leadership when looking at key CFO skills,leading people is going to be at the top. You can't do everything yourself. When you reach that level, a CFO must be able to partner with the other C suite level executives, especially the CEO, and you need a well developed finance and accounting team helping you achieve the strategy and the tasks every day. Learning to lead, to build trust, to provide clarity and to develop others will help you tremendously as you advance your career. Next week, I will be talking about self awareness and reading the room. Don't forget that I have a Facebook group called the finance leader podcast community. This is a place where we can help each other to grow and be prepared for the next step in our careers as finance and accounting professionals. So please join.The link is in the show notes with this episode. I hope you enjoyed the finance leader podcast I am dedicated to helping you grow your leadership, because of the leadership that will set you apart from your peers. You can get this episode wherever you find podcasts. Until next time,you can check out more resources at finance leader and sign up for my updates. You don't miss an episode of the show. And now go lead your team and I'll see you next time.Thank you