Finance News & Insights

What really makes a great leader? 3 mottos from your peers

To get to where you are, you had to demonstrate not only excellent financial knowledge and experience, but great leadership skills.

From your front-line staffers to departmental managers, you have to manage it all. In fact, you probably have to spend just as much time leading your team and educating others as you do analyzing spend and presenting financial reports.

And the best leaders know that there’s no end to their own personal and professional growth.

One viable way to keep growing? Looking to your fellow company leaders’ practices. Here are three pieces of advice from successful leaders that you can work to exemplify at your own company:

1. Trust your team

When it comes to managing your team and delegating assignments, it can be challenging to strike the right balance between completely letting go and micromanaging, says Keisha Rivers, founder of The KARS Group Ltd. But for your own sanity, and to help others develop their skills, it’s key to relinquish any untrusting nature.

When you show your team that you value and have confidence in them, they’ll be motivated and driven to deliver.

But you don’t have to give up all control in every situation. If you still want to retain some control over certain assignments or tasks, you can schedule regular check-ins to see how things are progressing, Rivers adds.

2. Pursue and welcome change

At work, you’ve probably heard (or maybe even said) the phrase, “That’s just the way things are here.” But you know that getting stuck in old habits or becoming stagnant is troublesome for leaders, explains Liz Elting, co-CEO of TransPerfect. Instead, leaders should constantly look to innovate, to update policies, to improve process steps.

And don’t go it alone! Elting recommends gathering feedback from everyone who holds a stake in your processes, from your own staffers and managers to other business units and trading partners.

The questions you ask can be more general (“How’s our process doing overall?”) or more specific to a certain practice (“Could we streamline XYZ in our payroll process? Is our vendor query turnaround time satisfactory?”).  And let’s not forget: Once you have feedback, make concrete plans to act on it. That’ll show you’re not just a leader who wants to progress, but a doer who will really make it happen.

3. Seek respect, not popularity

There’s no denying it: Everyone wants to be well-liked. But sometimes, especially when you’re a top executive, you have to make tough decisions or enforce rules that others don’t like.

That’s why David Scarola, Chief Experience Officer of The Alternative Board, focuses not on being well-liked by everyone he works with, but on being understood and respected.

It’s important to communicate openly and clarify why decisions were made, why deadlines are in place, and so on. Others may not always like it, but if you thoroughly explain the reasoning behind it, they can understand it. And that’ll earn you even more respect.



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