Effective finance professionals need to develop their leadership skills

Articles Leo Lee

The US president John F Kennedy once said that ‘leadership and learning are indispensable to each other’. A good leader constantly reassesses the traits needed to represent the people they lead and to make the best decisions when faced with challenge or opportunity. And they never stop being willing to learn and able to change.

Leadership is a fluid concept and a hard one to define. Our understanding and expectations of good leadership change as society does: in the wake of contextual changes such as globalisation and the digital age, and as awareness increases around ingrained structures or prejudices, for example. So I am glad to see that this issue of AB is all about what leadership means – today and into the future.

Finance professionals need many strong leadership traits. They need to be well rounded and able to use the knowledge of a company or situation gained through their analysis to decide on the best way forward. They need to be able to communicate with people, and for their direction and vision to be trusted and shared.

Leadership is not always about being at the top of the organisation. It’s about taking people with you as you strive to do the right thing and make a positive impact on the world around you.

That is why I am so excited to see ACCA rolling out its Strategic Business Leader exam sessions this month. It’s a truly forward-looking way of educating our next generation of professionals about the real-life challenges and opportunities they are likely to face.

ACCA is training leaders from the earliest stage of their career because it’s important that we all help the next generation to develop the leadership skills that they will need throughout their professional lives.

I am so excited that ACCA is taking this major step, and I encourage you all to engage – to tell your networks and advocate for the importance of training strategic business leaders.

It’s time for us to lead the way, to teach what it is that makes great leaders and to learn about it as well. Through this process we can truly shape the future. 

Leo Lee FCCA is retired, but formerly held various roles at the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong and is past president of ACCA Hong Kong.

This article was first published in the September 2018 International edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

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