Upskilling key to effective corporate leadership

In the digital age, financial leaders have a responsibility to lead their employees while seeking out new opportunities for the department.

A study from MIT, Deloitte and the Harvard Business Review found that an overwhelming 70 percent did not think they had the right skills, business structure or leadership to adapt to a digital-first model.

However, technology will continue to play an important role in finance departments for years to come, with financial leaders being encouraged to embrace tools like automation and machine learning.

“Upskilling” has become a buzzword in the last few years, but the concept is simple: keep your current job, learn new skills, and do your job better than before.

Interestingly, a PwC survey found that 77 percent of adults are willing to upskill or reskill themselves, presenting an opportunity for leaders to elevate their teams.

Research indicates that forward-thinking leadership is necessary for the finance function to flourish, both in business and human relations. As such, financial directors and CFOs alike have a responsibility to prepare for the future in this rapidly-evolving digital era.

However, to lead digital growth, FDs and CFOs need to first be effective leaders. If they hone soft skills, like communication and cooperation, leaders can open themselves up to their team for insightful feedback and discussions.

Soft skills also help leaders meet employees at their level, allowing leaders to understand what their team’s baseline knowledge is and develop custom digital solutions.

Of course, this process will look different for each employee, and can take time to put into practice. However, it presents a good leadership model to your team and lets them know you, too, are a team player.

Through this personalised approach, digital-savvy leaders can also foster an appetite for new skills within their teams, bringing in new technology to support the company where appropriate.

Additionally, if the department already has digitally-native or savvy employees, leadership can call on them for advice. This helps foster a sense of belonging within the team and allows FDs and CFOs to share the weight.

By nature, corporate leaders will always need to lead, but they don’t always have to be “the leader.” Offering employees the chance to step up and develop their own leadership skills is mutually beneficial, and studies show it may even contribute to employee retention.

At the end of the day, the finance function is rapidly changing, but it continues to be dependent on the effective leadership of FDs and CFOs. To foster internal growth, leaders need to be available, forward-thinking and prepare their team for positive change.

Learn more about financial leadership and the role digital transformation is playing, tune into Financial Director’s free webinar, in association with Sempre Analytics, on March 25th, 2020 at 3PM.

Our panel of speakers will discuss the role finance leaders play in driving change, the best way to implement digital solutions into the finance department, and the best ways to forecast and plan for the best solutions.

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