“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.” –Libba Bray
One moment is all it takes to be inspired. That quote from author Libba Bray got me thinking about the people who have inspired change in me over the years and how their leadership qualities have influenced me to become a better leader every day. For me, these three leadership qualities stand out to me as most vital for success:
As financial professionals working in business, we agree to abide by the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and trust. Having integrity means you are a trustworthy, reliable, and credible leader, especially in our field. Accountants at all levels must uphold ethical practices to do their jobs the right way or else they face high penalties and damage to their reputation.
There is nothing more important than your brand and your reputation. My positions in industry, where I worked at one of the world’s most trusted companies, taught me that “the good guys” can win in the market—a company that upholds its values will succeed. The collateral damage from a competitor’s fraudulent behavior is real. How you achieve outcomes is as important as the outcomes themselves.
Passion is contagious. If you’re passionate about what you do, chances are you’ll inspire others to be passionate, too. Being a passionate—and compassionate—leader shows your employees that you’re invested in them and in the team, always seeking to build followership, as coined by leadership guru John C. Maxwell.
Passion to me is about a genuine, unwavering, and relentless desire to be a stronger family member and businessperson regardless of the status you have achieved. When I joined IMA, coming from a wonderful business career that included being CFO of a multi-billion-dollar operation, I had zero professional certifications. When I saw the passion of IMA’s volunteers for the value of professional certifications, it inspired me to earn the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) and CAE (Certified Association Executive) credentials. Now I’m even more passionate because I better understand the industry and the work that our members do.
Commitment comes in many forms: commitment to projects, people, business relationships, and more. When you lead by example, your team can see that you are committed and are working hard to achieve success. A strong leader should also be committed to being ethical and courageous, always inspiring a culture of challenge. Keep your promises, admit your mistakes, continuously learn, and build a respectful rapport with your team.
I have faced intense competition in my industry positions and at IMA. I have learned that commitment to people, mission, and strategy is key to sustainable success. When times get tough, you really learn who you can count on and how resilient your strategy is. I am a firm believer in FIERCE competition (Focused on mission, Innovative, Entrepreneurial, Respectful, Courageous, and Empathetic).
Change, One Moment at a Time
Having integrity, passion, and commitment will build a well-rounded base for being a strong leader. Integrity allows you to uphold your ethical values and build your reputation as a trusted business professional. Exuding genuine passion and commitment for your work fosters a unified, mutually respectful business culture. You can advance the management accounting profession by becoming a stronger leader. It only takes a moment, a gesture, or a person to make a difference.
What or who inspires you to be a better leader?
Written by Jeff Thomson
“Leading Without a Title” – Strategic Finance