At a time of great change and uncertainty, people will look to their managers for leadership. Your organisation may be changing – some are completely reinventing themselves – so your role in organising your team effectively and helping them to align with the organisation's new priorities will be key.
But that doesn't mean that you are going to be required to deliver a great motivational speech. Indeed, with so many people working remotely, some of those skills that involve the force of an individual's presence may be less important than they were, meaning managers will need new ways to establish their credibility. So, what is your role as a finance leader, and how may that need to change as we define a new future for our organisations?
Why is emotional intelligence more important than ever?
By being open and honest – and by communicating clearly and frequently – you will find that people come to trust you and look to you for guidance. Through activities like giving feedback, allocating tasks and distributing resources, leaders can affect the emotions of their team. In turn, this directly affects employee behaviour and productivity, so it is vital that you consider how people will respond to your actions.
When we can't be face-to-face with people, emotional intelligence becomes even more important. Your ability to understand and manage moods and emotions in yourself and others is the key to your success.
Does your organisational culture need to adapt to the new ‘normal’?
Every organisation has a culture within which everyone operates. We may have our own preferred style, but we must match that up against the environment in which we are working. Thinking about your organisation,
- Does it have a predominant leadership culture?
- Has this culture been affected by the pandemic?
- If so, will that mean you have to adapt your own style in future?
As an example, one big thing that may change – particularly with an increase in remote working – is that some aspects of leadership that may have helped you get promoted through the ranks (such as being a very capable and charismatic person who gains people’s respect through networking events, or influencing people by presenting compelling cases and doing PowerPoint presentations) are more useful when you've got everybody in the same office together.
So, if you do end up working in a new structure and a new setup, you're going to have to find new ways of becoming that credible and significant leader, and it may not just be through the force of your presence.
How can your organisation embrace new strategic opportunities?
With change comes large-scale strategic opportunities. Many organisations will decide that they don't want to return to the way things were and that, in fact, the new world that they're going to emerge into requires a tweak – or even a significant change – in strategic direction. You may have a role in setting that strategy, or at least an input into it, but certainly you have a big role in helping to reinforce it. As a finance function, you need to be nimble and line up with that.
That means you need to understand what the new set of imperatives are and what their implications are for the organisation as a whole. You might need to design reporting systems, help people to understand them and help people to measure their progress. And you need to communicate to people, through the forecasting, budgeting KPI-setting process, for example, to provide support for that new strategic direction.
Embrace change and bring your team with you
At a more operational level, we might decide not to do everything that we used to do and to adopt new working practices. Such changes aren't necessarily mandated from the top, they also come up from the bottom. By involving everybody in the team you can get them to come up with ideas for how you can create a new, future world that's better than the one you left behind.
Learn more about how accountingcpd can help you and your team create a stronger post-pandemic finance function through access to relevant, flexible online CPD designed to help accountants grow. Find out more about our team subscriptions.