Entrepreneurs and Finance Chiefs Have a Lot in Common. Both are Leaders!
Growing up as an entrepreneur, I learnt very quickly that to accomplish milestones, you need to be influential! Part of this lesson was NOT to lose focus on my team, as not everyone working with me was entrepreneurial in mindset, so we all processed things differently.
In other words, I learnt that as an entrepreneur, a culture of motivation with those you are working with is vital, and core to this is getting everyone on the same page in terms of successfully achieving business objectives. To accomplish this, entrepreneurs must develop leadership skills. Finance leaders also require these characteristics to be successful in their role. By the way, these skills are not merely people related; it takes more than that!
Below are 4 entrepreneurial leadership habits to practice. All will hone your leadership skills and make you more influential with your stakeholders:
Do you understand who you are, and what is it that drives you or is of passion to you? Knowing this purpose, and why you are starting (or started) business is core to being able to lead successfully. Part of this analysis entails: a) what problem are you trying to address through this business, b) what is your value proposition in life and c) does your personal value proposition align itself to the value proposition of your business?
If you able to answer these three aspects at a minimum, you will create for yourself a solid foundation to articulate and influence a consistent vision to all stakeholders. For more on self-awareness check out this piece by another CFO.University Contributor, Jeff VandenHoek, Developing Greater Self-Awareness
2. Sales Culture
Are you selling a technical product/solution OR are you selling a “better sleep at night” product/solution? If the former, then you in for an uphill battle! Critical to successful business growth is understanding what will make your customer sleep better at night. Often as founders of a business or financial leaders, we get engrossed in all the technical functionalities and “hoo-haas” our product delivers, forgetting that not everyone may understand or even need to understand these details. So, the trick to it all is the following:
- Make sure sales strategies are “value-proposition” based and NOT technical product based. Sell the benefits of your financial tools, skills and insight, not the features or technology behind them.
- As an entrepreneur or finance chief, you DO NOT need to be a guru at sales. Rather, think of yourself as the customer, and ask yourself: In 30 seconds, what will make me buy this product so I can sleep better at night? or What can I offer our Board and Leadership team in terms of insight, asset protection and strategic direction that will help them sleep better at night?
Driving these two factors across your organisation is vital, precisely to the point that ALL employees (not only salespeople) speak the same language to the public. In Doug Rainbolt’s series Are CFOs from Mars, and CMOs from Venus? he addresses how Finance heads can team with marketing and sales leaders to create a communication and flow of information that allows businesses to scale more quickly.
3. Be a Supporter
Success is teamwork! As the leader of the pack, you need to be a backbone to your team in helping them identify hurdles and obstacles that hinder accomplishment of goals. Most importantly in this journey, A supporter does not reprimand others for mistakes made, but uses the mistake as a learning opportunity to ensure it is not repeated.. Maintaining that positive attitude creates what we refer to as “The Motivational Atmosphere”. And remember, if we don’t make mistakes, how do we learn?
4. Motivational Atmosphere
Don’t we all want to increase organisational productivity and improve job satisfaction? Here are a few guidelines to creating Motivational Atmosphere:
- Continuously engage with your employees and get their perspectives of what they see as good and bad in the organisation.
- Ask them for solutions on ways to improve and discuss the merits of their solutions and why it may/may not work.
- Engage in and reinforce proactive forward-thinking behaviour.
- Encourage employees to innovate and come up with new suggestions and solutions. Engage on their innovations and their reasoning behind them. Participate with them in determining whether they will work or not.
7 Ways to Decrease Workplace Distractions & Increase Productivity, a piece prepared by Brandon Laws from Xenium, reinforces the concepts noted above.
Being an entrepreneur and finance chief is both fun and daunting! What I suggest is prepare proactively, and enjoy the ride,making the most of the journey ahead!
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