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steer for success with financial leadership

Finance Leadership Blog

Today’s business environment is highly competitive. Organisations are becoming increasingly complex and the demands of finance teams have evolved. In modern times, finance professionals are no mere number crunchers. They’re crucial cogs when it comes to running a successful company. To manage them and respond to their needs, finance managers need a wide array of leadership qualities.


why is financial leadership so important?

Financial leadership is not limited to higher management profiles like CFOs. It’s important for any individual who is responsible for another co-worker. Leadership competencies help them inspire or motivate others, make informed decisions that get results and ultimately be a force that drives the organisation forward!

the finance leaders of the future

To be a finance leader, being an expert in all things finance won’t cut it anymore. The sector is continuously evolving. New technological tools and frameworks are popping up and sustainable finance practices are gaining more momentum. The leaders of the future should consider the direction in which the company is headed and also be aware of what’s currently happening in finance.

Most importantly of all, it takes great general leadership qualities to make a great finance leader. Developing leadership skills is indispensable for managers to improve the performance of their team and to take actions that’ll benefit the company.

what makes a great finance leader?

Competent leaders require both hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are job-related competencies, like financial insights, business acumen or technological know-how. If you’re business savvy with a knack for numbers, that’s great! But you need more to successfully manage a team and to encourage them to put their best foot forward.

As such, soft skills are a crucial element of being a powerful finance leader. You can compare these with personality traits. They’re useful skills, like communication or workload management, that are not unique to your role but are transferrable to most other jobs.


So which soft skills top the list if you want to be an excellent finance leader?

  • interpersonal & communication skills

Finance managers quite often work together with a lot of different people, also outside their team or even beyond their own organisation. To this end, having good interpersonal skills is indispensable.

In their own team, this entails that finance managers are approachable and have created a supportive environment to guide and motivate their team members and consequently enhance their performance. When it comes to important clients or stakeholders, they should interact in a transparent and respectful way, while still being able to communicate assertively if needed.

Tip: Use the 3 Cs for assertive communication: be confident, clear and calm. Leave your emotions out of it and focus on getting your message across as objectively and to the point as possible.

  • giving (and receiving!) feedback

Neither giving nor receiving feedback is an easy thing to do. It’s quite a tricky but vital competency to focus on. After all, if there is no feedback, there can be no lessons learned and no professional growth. Great leaders won’t hesitate to give their team members constructive criticism and they’re in turn open to receiving feedback.

As an example of constructive criticism, it’s important to be supportive and acknowledge a team member’s hard work if they’ve had to deal with a tricky issue. “I know this was quite a difficult task and I’m impressed by your perseverance. Thanks to your efforts, we got there in the end!” Similarly, if their performance is not up to par, you need to address this as well. “I was expecting you to perform better on this project and I’m a little concerned. Could you explain to me what happened?”

  • teamwork & decision-making skills

A true leader is a team player but is equally capable of independent decision-making. Successful finance managers support their team. Additionally, they make use of all resources available to them (including their team and their opinions and expertise!) to weigh pros and cons and finally make an informed decision.

  • it’s all about the mindset

Leadership involves being open-minded and receptive to other options and being able to spot new opportunities. This also requires vision: understanding the world of finance, understanding your company, your team and what makes them tick.

Another significant aspect to this open-mindedness is embracing change. For example, today, finance no longer works in isolation. A cross-functional perspective that extends beyond the finance department is therefore a great asset to have.


Did you know...

that starting this year, hyphen provides leadership trainings for its finance consultants? Get in touch with us to find out how our consultants can help your finance organisation.


leadership style

Did you know that a manager’s leadership style can be responsible for a whopping 30% of a company’s bottom-line business results? A leadership style is an approach that leaders use to guide and motivate their team members. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, so it comes as no surprise that a manager’s leadership style is usually based on their own personal experience, their personality and way of thinking.

A great variety of leadership styles exist. For instance, a coach-style leadership focuses on developing individual strengths and improving team dynamics to work together more efficiently. With transformational leadership, on the other hand, the leader continues to push the envelope and set the bar high for all team members in order to obtain real transformational change, in the organisation or its people.

There is no perfect leadership style that fits the bill for all companies. Which approach is suitable for your team depends on various factors, such as the knowledge and experience of the team, whether the organisation is young or mature, the type of work and of course, as mentioned, the leader.


building the future, one leader at a time

A finance professional is so much more than a ‘numbers person’. These experts play an essential role in achieving or even exceeding business targets. Anyone who is in charge of another professional, should possess the right leadership competencies to guide and empower their co-workers, envision the opportunities of the future and help steer their organisation towards success.

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