Perfecting your finance leadership skills

Sayer Vincent has been working in collaboration with the Charity Finance Group (CFG) and Centre for Charity Effectiveness at Bayes Business School to run the ‘Inspiring Financial Leadership’ training course for over 10 years.

The course helps charity finance professionals to step outside the box, rethink the traditional role of the finance professional, and understand the tools and knowledge they need as leaders. The next course starts in October 2022, running through to May 2023 and consists of eight online sessions.

As one of the course directors, I’ve had the great pleasure of being involved in all the modules, and highly recommend it to charity finance professionals keen to advance their skills and expertise to progress on their leadership journey.

You’ll hear from me, as well as Maggie Smith, an Associate at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness and executive coach. At each module we also welcome a speaker with significant leadership experience to provide you with an additional perspective. You also have the opportunity to build a group of sector peers over the months.

Why now?

Finance leaders are at the forefront of how a charity is run. They are responsible for guiding the charity from a financial perspective and play a vital role in interpreting the finances for other leaders, trustees, and staff. A finance leader’s role is pivotal and has the power to be transformational for an organisation in terms the delivery and impact of the charity.

There has never been greater need for strong and inspiring financial leadership as charities face ever more challenging times following the pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis.

To excel in the role, finance leaders need several core skills and behaviours which go beyond just being able to crunch the numbers.

On the course we remind delegates that finance professionals provide a service to the entire organisation, so need to have excellent interpersonal skills and relate well to other people. They need to build rapport and trust with staff across the organisation, as well as the board, and be accessible, open, and available.

In most organisations finance is not people’s strongest skill, but finance leaders can help to demystify the numbers and put them into context. By being approachable and open, people will be able to ask them any question, however silly it may seem and that will improve their skills and competency.

Finance leaders need good coaching skills to bring out the best in their team. If they can support top help them manage a budget for instance and let them know they can do it, they will be far more likely to handle it better in the future.

Bringing new ideas and innovation is another important part of the role and this task should not just be left to the ‘creative’ types in the organisation. Below are some tips on how to become a good leader:

  • Ensure clear communication – especially for people with limited financial knowledge. Interpreting the language of finance both inside and outside the organisation is crucial
  • Listen and learn – always be willing to listen to someone else’s opinion on issues affecting the charity
  • Be creative – good financial leaders are creative and come up with solutions, not problems
  • Engage – with people across all departments, not just the board and the Chair
  • Improve visibility – attend meetings in other departments and be willing to suggest ideas
  • Be open and transparent – build rapport across the entire organisation not just in the finance team
  • Flexible and adaptable – good financial leaders can multitask and switch brain power to deal with a range of issues, from strategic to the more mundane
  • Don’t be afraid of change – successful charity foundations are always evolving and managing and accepting change is an important skill
  • Have vision – always be able to see the bigger picture and know where the charity is heading

For those keen to improve their leadership skills, the next ‘Inspiring Financial Leadership’ training course starts on 18 October 2022 and finishes on 23 May 2023. It combines the latest leadership models with practical advice and support through interactive sessions, discussions, and individual coaching, and draws on leadership research and the challenges that finance professionals face.

Key subject areas include leading change; vision and culture; motivating self and others; communication, and wellness and resilience.

There is a bursary scheme for charity professionals who are from under-represented groups and working for charities with a turnover of under £10m, plus there are early bird and member rates available to Sayer Vincent clients.

To find out more and to book your place, visit CFG’s website.