In the second part of this series, Denny Taylor explores how knowledge leadership is a crucial component of building strategic function.
By Dennis Taylor
Despite the importance of technical credibility, stellar strategic function builders are those who are able to rise above simply acting as a “thought leader” or niche player, to someone who envisions and makes a wider contribution in expanding the capabilities of the function. By orchestrate, we mean the broader definition: to devise, coordinate, plan out or choreograph. Thus, finance orchestrators are akin to architects of their function.
What does this mean in practical terms? First, world-class finance leaders practice what they preach by establishing and supporting a culture of financial rigor, high standards and integrity through their words and actions. Easier said than done, values-based leadership such as this requires courage and an ability to hold people to account—both business partners and teams.
Next, function building involves acting like somewhat of a change agent in proactively shaping the future of the function by communicating a vision of excellence that inspires people to something greater than themselves. This is not colorful rhetoric: Your agenda should energize people around key business priorities so that the rationale and expectations present a clear call to action.
Finally, orchestrators are what we like to call “net developers of talent.” They build others’ capability via coaching and mentoring, championing personal and professional growth, as well as pushing team members to stretch outside of their comfort zone.
Many executives think of themselves as good coaches, but rare are those who do it properly or proactively. Ask yourself, as a people manager, are you encouraging career movement between customer-facing areas and finance roles? Are you supporting movement within finance specialisms? What are you doing to broaden the outlook and capability of your direct reports?
I recently addressed a group of treasury, tax and insurance professionals at a client event where the topic was career progression and planning. This particular collection of managers and directors was focused on getting ahead; however, they missed the fact that you need to develop the capabilities of the people around you, including one or two possible successors, in order to make an effective transition to the next level. Their attention was focused more on individual training, growth and credentials at the expense of building functional strength.
In our practice, the most successful leaders evolve as they grow in their experience—into someone who is able to build a well-established, credible function around them. One that considers current demands while anticipating the organization’s future needs and a shifting external, commercial-economic landscape.
Stay tuned for next month’s post, when we address champions of rigor!
Dennis “Denny” Taylor is a certified coach and holds a master’s degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College. He is a Managing Consultant at YSC Ltd., a global boutique, where he has spent the last seven years working to unleash the power of senior executives. Prior to his 14 years in consulting, he worked in corporate human resources, training and design roles in the finance and publishing sectors.
Latest posts by Denny Taylor (see all)
- Financial Excellence Model: External Advocate, Part 4 - April 28, 2015
- Finance Excellence Model: Champion of Rigor, Part 3 - January 26, 2015
- Finance Excellence Model: Strategic Function Builder, Part 2 - November 25, 2014