When it comes to exceptional leadership, there are many facets that come into play. What makes someone a good leader? Whose opinion justifies whether someone is a good leader? Can businesses thrive without strong leadership?
The definition of a strong leader may differ by business, industry or individual but one common theme that seems to be universal throughout is the ability to communicate effectively.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial for business leaders to effectively communicate across various disciplines, functions and mediums. And as companies pivot their business strategies amidst the current crisis, it’s up to the leaders to guide their team’s dynamic in order to drive business.
For the finance function, leaders—who are already being interspersed into more aspects of the business such as operations, strategy and technology—now have to lead teams in remote capacities with limited resources.
It’s safe to say that finance leaders are facing unique challenges. Being able to speak to their essential role within the organization and keep up the integrity and accuracy of financial transactions and reporting during these changing times is tough yet crucial.
I thought it was an important time to discuss communication skills among finance leaders, especially as we navigate the difficult times that we are all experiencing across the globe. I came across an article that outlines some good points. I thought I’d share some of them along with a few of my own in the 5 Communication Skills for Strong Finance Leaders below!
- Know your audience.
Strong finance leaders should take the time to learn about the teams they’re leading. Learn their preferred communication methods and learning styles. Everyone is different. If you know the backgrounds of the individuals you are communicating with—whether that’s the accounting team, the CEO or outside parties—you’ll be able to come from a place of authenticity and get your points across in an appropriate fashion.
- Be direct and specific.
Whether you are giving constructive criticism or asking someone to complete a certain project, you need to be direct, concise and specific in your instructions. With so many communication options to choose from, you have to adapt your tone, message and direction accordingly. Whether you’re communicating via email, text, IM, phone, video or in-person, you must get your point across quickly and without any confusion.
- Watch for nonverbal clues.
You don’t have to be a body language expert to understand that eye contact, hand gestures and posture are important aspects of communication. Be mindful of your own nonverbal clues as well when communicating with others. Again, since there are so many communication channels these days, it’s important to adapt to each medium. When on a video conference, remember that your facial expressions will be on full display, so be sure to keep them in check and on par with the topic of conversation. Conversely, if you notice your team’s attention starting to drift away on a video call, switch gears and regain control of the conversation—whether that be by changing topics, altering your voice octave or peppering in some humor. Remember, leaders can smile and laugh, too.
- Listen intently.
One important aspect of communication has little to do with speaking—and that is listening. Holding back and just hearing what someone else has to say can show that you value the other person’s thoughts and words. This lends itself to trust, integrity and empathy—all characteristics that people look for in a strong leader. Having the self-control to let someone else speak without feeling like you have to do all the talking is very impactful and speaks volumes about a person.
- Remain positive.
Teams generally feed off the energy of their leader. If you show that you’re down and out, it is likely that the team will feel and act the same way. However, if you walk in the room (or onto a Zoom call) with a positive vibe and can put everyone at ease through your demeanor, tone and the words that you say, chances are everyone will likely be happier and more productive. And right now, that’s something that every team needs.
What are some other communication skills of strong finance leaders? Share your thoughts in the comments below!