The gap in progression to leadership positions for most accounting and finance professionals is not a question of technical skill or knowledge. In fact, the desire to rely on technical skill creates the gap itself.
Early in our career, we are rewarded for the completion of tasks in a timely manner. After time, the next measurement is accuracy. These are foundations that maintain importance in the future, but are only one piece of the puzzle.
A widely accepted belief in career management for future leaders is to go an inch wide and a mile deep; knowing your role in detail and repeatedly executing to a high standard until recognised for your talent. Ironically, the only talent you’re recognized for is completing your work on time and to a high standard.
Jumping the gap to become a leader
The key is to proactively stretch to the next level without the “authority” of a title. And it’s not always about doing your job faster, although a part of it. It’s about much more than that. Becoming a leader is about innovation and solving organisational problems.
Ask the right questions
Starting with the right questions to close this development gap is more important than trying to come up with the right answers straight away.
- What is the business trying to achieve and if the goals aren’t being achieved, then why not?
- How can I influence this through my role?
- What is broken or could be changed to make a measurable difference, (not just to my role, but to the business)?
- What projects or solutions can I initiate?
- How can I gain the right level of buy in?
It is likely that you will not have the skills to do everything, but your contribution and ability to engage others on an improvement or growth journey is what’s important. As you do this, you can fine-tune your skills as you evolve into a leader such as: project management, change management and transformational leadership, influence, strategic thinking and broadly, the execution of ideas.