Four Characteristics of a Successful Finance Leader

people standing and cheering behind another person in an office

What type of leader are you? Do you thrive on interactions with others, exchanging ideas, brainstorming, and working in groups? Or perhaps you are more on the visionary side, sharing stories, examples, and ideas to motivate and inspire your team.

These are just two examples of characteristics or traits of successful finance leaders. Not every leader possesses all these traits; most have a dominant working style, and perhaps a secondary style. No one style is better or worse than another, either. Some leadership styles fit in better with a particular organization’s culture than other styles, but that doesn’t necessarily make them better (or worse).

Each person’s personality is shaped by both innate characteristics and their life histories and experiences. We bring these attributes to our roles as finance leaders and managers. See which one of these four characteristics best describes your leadership style and learn how you can leverage your strengths for the betterment of the entire organization.

Leadership Style 1: The Connected Influencer

This is the leader who uses their connections within the organization—with the CEO, the CMO, and other leaders—to influence and shape the trajectory of their organization. They thrive on teamwork, but more so on using their position to create positive, lasting changes.

Leadership Style 2: The Authentic Disruptor

This is the leader who isn’t satisfied with the status quo. They are constantly asking, “Why?” Why do we do things this way and not another? These questions lead to lasting, positive changes in the organization. They are often viewed by the CEO as innovative and future-focused, someone who can be trusted to lead and manage change.

Leadership Style 3: The Curious Storyteller

The curious storyteller is a leader who connects the dots among various points of information in an organization to grasp and shape the big-picture store. This is the leader who sees the forest for the trees and who rarely gets lost in the details. Instead, they can juggle multiple points of view and sources of information to deeply understand whatever problems need to be solved.

Leadership Style 4: The Value Creator

The Value Creator takes a logical, rational approach to leadership. This is the leader who prefers facts and figures, and who can understand the big-picture consequences of the data presented in a report. The Value Creator focuses on KPIs, metrics, and measurements, and can quantify the value they bring to organization whether they’re addressing the board of directors or a group of employees.

Maximize Your Leadership Style

As you can see, each leadership style is unique. Leveraging the unique strengths of each role is one way to make the most of your personal leadership style.

The Connected Influencer, for example, thrives on making and maintaining connections. This leader benefits from participating in peer groups, attending conferences, and networking to make new connections. By making new connections, such a leader can bring fresh ideas into an organization and develop a support network whenever they need it.

For moribund or staid organizations, the Disruptor may be the one to bring the fresh winds of change into the building. A nonprofit with a venerable history, but set in its ways, may find itself shaken to the core by a disruptor’s leadership style, but in the end, it’s like spring cleaning—unpleasant while it’s underway but the outcome is welcome. Disruptors may wish to look for positions that enable them to ask the right questions to make changes. Organizations that are happy with the status quo probably aren’t for you; ones that are willing to ask and answer important questions will love your leadership traits.

The Curious Storyteller can also be a change agent, but they can also support organizations in crisis by helping them see beyond the immediate situation and into the future. Their unique gift of connecting the dots for people and weaving it into a compelling story can give hope to an organization that is struggling or motivate teams to move beyond the present and into the exciting future.

Lastly, the Value Creator often works best when paired with a visionary CEO or others in the leadership team who need grounding. Because you bring value through careful, clear, and logical analysis, you can offset the more “big picture” thinking of the Visionary. Finding a Visionary you work well with is the key to using your strengths to your advantage.

Are There More Than Four Leadership Styles?

People are like diamonds—they have many facets. Yes, there are more than four leadership styles, and they can be characterized quite differently depending on where they originate.

If you’re curious about leadership styles, it’s a fun area of personal growth to explore. Each management school groups leadership traits differently, and the intersection of personal characteristics (such as those analyzed by a Myers-Briggs, Enneagram or DISC assessment) along with management style theories can help you understand the nature of your personality and how your strengths and weaknesses can be used to benefit your organization and those around you.

About Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.