How leaders must adapt to a changing workplace

Written on Mar 01, 2018

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Self-B-ColorThe evolving business environment is forcing leaders to reinvent their roles. To best position their teams and companies for success, accounting professionals need to look to the future.

“Futurist” leaders take a holistic approach to their organizations, said Brad Self, chief talent officer at Clark Schaefer Hackett. Issues such as employee motivation, career growth and company culture all have a role to play in business success.

“A futurist leader has to be able to see the big picture,” he said.

Self will present “Your Role as a Business Partner: How to be a futurist leader” in March at OSCPA’s Strategic Finance and Accounting Summit. He’ll discuss what it means to create change as a leader and effectively communicate within your organization.

He said the accounting profession can be so linear and process-oriented that there has been less emphasis on creative thinking in leadership. Today’s business environment requires that to change. One example, he said, is the growing importance for leaders to develop strong relationships within their organization, a skill that might be unfamiliar to some who subscribe to a more traditional style of leadership.

“In the past, for the CFO or shareholder in an accounting firm, the relational piece hasn’t been something in demand. And now it is,” Self said. “If you want to retain your people and have them feel engaged, you’ve got to develop some type of relationship with them.”

Effectively communicating is a key part of relationship building, along with listening. Self said many leaders don’t take the listening piece seriously because they think it’s too easy.

“Listening is a simple concept, but it involves body language and tone and attentiveness,” he said. “Taking the time to listen in this professional environment provides huge benefits. And it builds that opportunity to improve processes, because when you’re listening to the needs of your people you can identify the issues.”

And this changing leadership role isn’t just for senior execs, Self said. Anyone in the organization has the potential to influence the culture and the organization for the better.

“You can give someone instructions as their manager, but to be a great leader you’ve got to be inspiring and motivating,” he said. “You must be able to influence people, and anyone can have that ability. It doesn’t matter what age you are.”

Register today for the Strategic Finance and Accounting Summit!

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