5 Practices to Urgently Elevate Your Leadership
January 17, 2024
6 minute read – In this environment, it can be easy for finance leaders to lose sight of continuing their own leadership development. With deposit outflows, liquidity pressure, and interest rate risk concerns, the business focus is very much on the financial structure. For many, this may seem like it is “prime time” for numbers and analysis to ensure the safety and soundness of their institution. While the focus on finance is necessary, finance leaders’ effectiveness will be lost without elevating their leadership abilities.
Said differently, finance is only part of the job description for financial leaders. The other part of the job description is ensuring that they are developing their people, building their teams, and cultivating an organizational culture that will thrive in a landscape of constant change and competition.
Below, we’ve shared insights into 5 effective leadership practices that can help finance leaders thrive:
1. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
In this ever-changing environment, finance leaders need to be adept at critical thinking and problem-solving. One valuable technique they employ is the ‘5 Whys,’ which is a technique used to ensure effective and efficient problem solving. Listen to our podcast on Characteristics of Critical Thinkers for a deeper dive into this topic.
Additionally, have the understanding that you have the right and responsibility to ask questions to gain clarity in a situation, and do so consistently. Effective leaders assume positive intent when engaging in problem-solving efforts. Instead of jumping to conclusions or assigning blame, they encourage a constructive and collaborative approach to find solutions that benefit the team as a whole.
Finance leaders must maintain a delicate balance between organization, prioritization, and flexibility. They excel in time management and effectively delegate tasks to accomplish workloads efficiently. Understanding how to prioritize responsibilities is crucial in ensuring that the team’s efforts are aligned with the organization’s goals. Remind the team about overall company strategy and objectives and continue to refer back to them when assisting others with priorities.
Finance leaders are aware of the importance of flexibility. They understand that needs can change rapidly in a competitive environment, and they are ready to pivot when necessary. However, they also recognize the importance of managing stress and high output demands effectively. They are open to discussing work overload and burnout, both for themselves and their team members, to ensure that everyone remains productive and healthy.
Clear communication is the cornerstone of any successful team. Leaders should focus on ensuring that their communication is clear, concise, complete, considerate, correct, courteous, and concrete. They understand that “clear is kind,” and they prioritize delivering messages in a way that minimizes confusion and misinterpretation.
Furthermore, effective finance leaders don’t just focus on talking; they are equally committed to active listening. They encourage open and honest communication within the team, making sure that everyone’s voice is heard. This two-way communication fosters a culture of trust and transparency, which is essential when navigating through challenging situations.
4. Relationship Building/Empathy
Effective leadership begins with building strong relationships and showing empathy towards team members, while finding creative ways to make connections. A successful finance leader takes the time to understand the personal lives of their team members, including their families, aspirations, and challenges. By doing so, they demonstrate a genuine interest in their employees’ well-being, building trust in the process. This trust will also encourage team members to feel safe asking for help.
Moreover, such leaders find creative ways to connect with their staff members. Whether it’s through team-building activities, one-on-one conversations, or open-door policies, they create an environment where employees feel comfortable approaching them for help when facing challenges. This emotional connection fosters a sense of loyalty and commitment among the team, which is crucial in a competitive environment.
Finance leaders must foster an inclusive workplace where every team member feels a sense of belonging, without lowering expectations. This involves meeting employees where they are, identifying their individual preferences for treatment, and understanding their communication preferences. Effective leaders identify and implement reasonable accommodations, when necessary, to ensure that every team member can contribute their best.
In addition, finance leaders take the time to understand their own identity and how it impacts their leadership style. By acknowledging their biases and actively working to mitigate them, they create a safe environment where team members can share their identities, drop covers, and belong.
In the world of finance, effective leadership practices are the key to thriving amidst constant change and competition. A consistent theme in all the practices above is that they are about the leader and how they show up. Doing so also positions the organization for better success even in today’s environment where there is constant and rapid change.