By Jim Wong, CPA | April 1, 2015


Create a compelling vision, one that takes people to a new place, and then translate that vision into a reality. — Warren Bennis

Developing excellence as a leader in the accounting, finance and IT space is an evolving concept. Great leadership is not based upon a certain set of skills learned in a single moment. Leadership grows as the individual expands his or her experiences, and then effectively brings those experiences to the teams he or she leads.

In February, we brought you important concepts to consider for being not only a good, but great leader in our How to Be a Great Leader Part 1 blog entry. Our points were taken from a recently published CFO.com e-book, What Makes a CFO Great? We are going to continue the discussion below and dive into even more tips discussed for becoming a great accounting, finance or IT leader.

Make Tough Decisions
As a Director of SEC Reporting, CFO or a Director of IT, making tough decisions naturally comes with your position. However, there are various dimensions to making a difficult decision. The e-book touches on the following: Quality, speed, yield and effort. When looking back at a tough decision, do you typically make the right choice? How quickly do you make critical decisions? Do you follow through with the decisions that you make? How much time, effort and expense come with your decisions?

It’s important to be aware of how the four factors correlate to the overall success of your decisions. And, different functions may weigh the four dimensions differently. Know your business and your team in order to figure out where you rank in your decision making.

Communicate Strategically
The e-book states, “To collaborate effectively with the executive team, the board, and other departments on key financial decisions, CFOs should tell the story behind the numbers, not just interpret them. When you get to this level, 80% of your job is communication.” Whether you’re a CFO or another accounting, finance or IT manager, your job is much more global than the scope of the functional area you manage or lead. Communication is a crucial component as well. By communicating strategically to other functions and leaders in the business, you help align interests of all of the teams. In addition, your role as a leader in Finance or IT is to share what your view of the business is to help the company achieve its goals. Sharing your recommendations based on your analysis gained from leading your functional area, positions you and your team as key contributors to the organization as a whole.

Communicate What is Relevant
With the technological advances in today’s world, there are times when a company can have an abundance of data — almost too much to handle. A great leader knows how to use his or her judgment when analyzing such data. Producing actionable insight from the data is key. The e-book states, “Poor financial analyses may stem in part from overly detailed analyses that consume too much time. When you give people too much information, they can actually underperform…There is more and more data coming in, but that doesn’t make it any easier for FP&A teams to deliver actionable insight to their business partners.” It’s important to integrate both qualitative and quantitative data into your analysis; infer trends and distinguish patterns that are relevant from those that are not; and, isolate actionable items so that you can teach other leaders new details about the business. Likewise, for IT leaders and managers, communicating too much technical details can overcomplicate issues for their business partners. As a result, it may confuse and slow down the decision-making process while not necessarily selecting the best course of action. The key for Finance and IT leaders is to provide relevant information that helps their colleagues see the big picture more clearly.

All of these strategies can help develop you into a great accounting, finance or IT leader.

What are some other characteristics of a great leader? Comment below and let us know.


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