Are you hoping to land a job as in-house Finance Manager for a company? If this is the first time that you are applying for a leadership role, you might be wondering if you have the relevant skills for the job. But don’t forget, seasoned managers’ leadership skills are also regularly tested with new challenges. So, whether you are a newbie or a veteran in a leadership role, make sure that you read through our checklist of 6 essential leadership skills for Finance Managers.
In Finance, you come across numbers by default and knowing how to analyse the data is essential. According to the Corporate Finance Institute, analytical skills is “an individual’s ability to identify a problem, investigate to find out relevant facts, and find a logical solution”. As a Finance leader you should, for example, be able to track any irregularities in your company’s spending behaviour by looking at your daily, weekly or monthly outgoings.
Following on from the analytical skills, it helps if you also have strong reporting skills as the head of a finance department. For example, you might have to run weekly reports for the Managing Director which are showing the cashflow of the company. Firstly, knowing how to find the data is half the battle, so having the right software in place which produces the information in real-time is essential. Secondly, make sure that you create a report that is easily digestible and well-presented. Whoever asked for the data doesn’t want to waste their time filtering through irrelevant information, but much rather wants to have the key findings brought to their attention quickly.
A successful leader of a Finance team should also be tech savvy. Why is this so important? Finance teams usually work with different accounting packages which store the financial business data and are used to perform business day-to-day transactions. Without a good grasp for technology, a Finance Manager would not be able to do their job. Especially since the government rolled out their making tax digital scheme in 2019, which requires that all VAT-registered businesses keep digital records and use software to submit their VAT returns.
Another leadership skill for Finance Managers in 2022 is the ability to communicate to their team members via different channels. A few years ago, this might have only included phone, email and face-to-face, but since the pandemic, we’ve all experienced the rapid growth of video calls and app communication messengers. As a successful leader, make sure that you familiarise yourself with different communication platforms and gain an in-depth understanding about the preferred method of communication of your team members. For example, not everyone feels comfortable with video calls and some people still prefer to speak face-to-face. Successful leaders spot and address this and are themselves rewarded with a thriving and highly productive team.
To become a successful leader of a modern finance team you should make it your priority to delegate tasks to team members. It’s a matter of fact that leaders can’t do all the work themselves. Identifying from the beginning, where different strengths of their finance team members lie, and delegating work and responsibilities to them according to their strength, will not only free up the time of the Finance leader, but also empower individual employees. The process, however, only works if the Finance Manager monitors the performance of individual employees and gives them feedback and potential to grow in regular one-to-one sessions.
And last but not least, Finance Managers should be able to address continuous development in the workplace. On the one side this means that Finance Managers invest in their own professional growth by upskilling themselves through industry events and trade body publications. On the other side, leaders are advised also to offer their team members a platform to grow. By this we mean that they should, for example, offer regular training sessions to upskill staff on software they are working with. This could be an internal training session by an experienced team member or an external training session by an expert outside of the company. Another example would be to give team members, who would like to progress in their careers, the option of attending further education courses in developing their skills. The support could range from financial help or time off to study, depending on what the individual requires. If your company can offer exciting training and development opportunities, you also might be able to attract a wider range of candidates when you hire a new finance team member, as this is something especially millennials are looking for.
To recap, if you are hoping to land a leadership role in Finance, the following 6 skills are essential: