Leadership Skills Required to Thrive in the Future of Finance

A little bit of volatility, uncertainty and risk can be fun every now and again. It’s that fluttery feeling you get when you’re about to bluff on a poker hand, or take your first skydiving lesson. That jolt of adrenaline, wherever you get it, adds much needed spice to our lives.

Few Finance leaders want to feel those butterflies in their stomach when they’re at work, though. Stability, security and certainty feel much better when an entire business’ survival is on the line. So what’s a Finance department to do in a world where stability is in short supply, and where volatility is the new normal?

The Traits Finance Leaders Need to Survive and Thrive

As part of our latest guide, Scenario Planning for Finance, we asked experts what traits leaders need to survive and thrive in an uncertain business environment.  Read on for tips from:

Flexibility and Resilience

The global pandemic highlighted the need for more adaptability, flexibility and resilience in business. But it’s not just about planning for the next pandemic, natural disaster, or political crisis. It’s about planning for uncertainty, developing the ability to recognize the need to change course and make quick adjustments.

For Jack McCullough, the key trait for leaders in a constantly changing world is this: “The ability to evolve to changing and unforeseeable circumstances. We live in a world that can no longer be reliably predicted.”

Jack predicts that the leaders of the future will: “Usually be right, recognize when they are wrong, and adapt to new realities quickly.” In other words, those who are making good decisions based on data, but are able to spot a misstep and course-correct without losing momentum.

Data-Driven and Analytical

In order to achieve flexibility and resilience, Finance leaders need the ability to dive into data, analyze it, and generate insight that can guide the business. That’s not to say every Finance leader needs a team of data scientists, however — they just need the right tools to capture, analyze, and report on their data.

Says Richard Pototsky, “The key survival trait in Finance will be adaptability and the ability to  recognize patterns and trends in data well before they have an impact on the company. With so much uncertainty, long-term forecasting and what-if scenario planning will be critical if a company wants to thrive and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.”

A shift in mindset from reporting to predicting, supported by intelligent data collection and analysis technology, will position the Finance department to be a leader in the organization. “We all know that metrics drive the ship, but in order to survive, you will need to do more than bench-marking with the metrics,” Richard says.  “You will need to be able to do a deep-dive into what the numbers mean and how to use that information as a competitive advantage.”

Forward-Looking and Advisory

Ultimately, Finance departments need to fully own their new advisory role, offering data-driven insight to spot opportunities and minimize risks.

“I think professionals working in accounting and Finance should rise to the need to be Most Trusted Advisors to clients. Clients need advisors now more than ever,” says Angie Grissom.

“Companies are facing many unknowns including increased competition without borders due to technology. Companies are facing the changing needs of team members and clients, staffing challenges and continuing marketplace changes, a shifting economy and a changing world as we have seen this year. All of these things point to a need for top financial advisors and scenario planning,” she says.

Adapt and Thrive

Most Finance and accounting leaders are already suited to put scenario planning at the heart of their organizations: They are used to taking in data, reporting, and making predictions.

Scenario planning empowers Finance leaders to create actionable intel, using a platform that employs machine learning and advanced analytics to take analysis to the next level.

Learn how to improve the speed and accuracy of your scenario planning: Check out Scenario Planning for Finance today.

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