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Leaders, such as CFOs and finance directors, are so accustomed to providing information and solutions, that they don’t stop and ask others for their ideas nearly enough. Cleveland discusses why today’s finance leaders must master talent management to be successful.
In 1960, leadership expert Harlan Cleveland wrote that the reason we believe great leaders are born is that the leaders of the past had access to the best and the brightest practitioners in their field, to the best education and to the best jobs to prepare them to be leaders. He also predicted that a time would come when the masses would have access to information in such a vast way that it would level the playing field and we would welcome a new breed of leaders. In the latter part of the 20th century we saw this play out and, coupled with the explosive growth of technology, our “work” seems to change exponentially from year to year. All of this means that you, as a CFO and a leader, must sharpen your leadership skills because you no longer can be successful simply by being the finance expert.
It is no longer good enough to simply be the leader in your department, organization or industry. It is also essential that when you put on your management hat, you are extremely efficient and effective. There is one key trait that consistently appears on both leadership and management charts... talent management. If we believe this to be true then it behooves us to try to understand it from a leadership and a management perspective and not over complicate it. To be sure, our workforce is more and more complex and diverse but it does not have to be complicated if we can find the common motivating factors and apply them in a manner that can be received by each group.
The overarching desire of all employees is to feel valued. Management guru Dan Pink defines the following three key factors for positive employee engagement.
• Autonomy defined as giving the employees the training and tools necessary to do their job well and then letting them do it. But be aware and supportive of the various work styles used by team members from different cultures and generations.
• Purpose is repeatedly stated as an important criterion for job selection. Staff members want to feel like they are making a difference.
• Mastery, as defined by Pink, is the innate desire of people to be really good at something. This mastery might or might not be part of someone’s job but if we believe and understand this, we can create a culture to encourages and values this need. By encouraging mastery, even if it is outside the work environment, you are investing in the personal growth and development of the individual that will invariably make them a better staff member and you a valued leader. To hear more from Dan Pink on this topic, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc&hd=1.
If you believe Pink’s assertions to be true, then your success factors are directly linked to some important leadership practices. First and foremost, create an environment that is open, transparent and welcomes input and feedback. Second, develop your personal sense of curiosity and practice listening to what is being said and not being said in your organization.
And, ask questions. Leaders and managers are so accustomed to providing information and solutions that they don’t stop and ask others for their ideas nearly often enough. You already know what you know and good leaders are lifelong learners, so ask questions and learn from the people around you. Ask questions and really listening to the answers. It sounds simple but it takes practice. For the next week take note of how many questions you ask and how often you are the one giving the information. Conversations do not have to be long to be valuable and engagement of employees is key to success.