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5 Ways to Be a Trusted Finance Leader

finance career finance leadership Apr 21, 2023

As a qualified accountant working in a startup or fast-growth business, your role as a financial leader is essential. Your expertise in financial management and analysis makes you a valuable asset to your organisation. However, to be an effective financial leader, you must also be a trusted leader. Trust is the foundation of leadership, and without it, your leadership will lack impact and influence


What are the five keys to being a trusted leader?

There are five essential keys to being a trusted finance leader:

Integrity: Leaders who consistently display honesty, transparency, and ethical behaviour inspire trust in their team.

This is obviously a big one for accountants in general and I remember having to study Ethics in a lot of detail to get qualified.

As a Finance Leader you are the person who should ensure that everyone is following the rules, within reason.  Sometimes it’s a little boring to be the one that has to highlight that a marketing campaign goes against the FCA rules or that a particular Commercial deal with a certain supplier sounds a little dodgy. 

But your job is to keep the lights on.

Competence: Leaders who possess technical and industry expertise are perceived as knowledgeable and trustworthy.

It is worthwhile, therefore, understanding the industry that you’re in.  If you’re switching to a new industry, then take a look here.

Accountants obviously have a lot of training and are therefore expected to be relatively competent.  However, as finance leaders we need to ensure that we keep learning.

Reliability: Leaders who keep their promises, follow through on commitments, and deliver results earn the trust of their team.

Under-promise and over-deliver.

I have fallen foul of this one a few times in my career where I say I can do everything, take on too much and then Over-promise and under-deliver.  Not a great way to build trust with colleagues and the leadership team.  So make sure you do the opposite and allow time for issues to crop up.

Empathy: Leaders who demonstrate empathy and respect towards their team members create a culture of trust and mutual respect.

I think in the fast growth and start-up world the culture is great and there is a lot more empathy within the workplace in general.  As finance leaders we need to ensure that we adhere to this.

Communication: Leaders who communicate effectively and transparently with their team members inspire trust and foster collaboration.

I cannot stress enough that over-communication with teams is almost impossible. 

I don’t know how many times I think I’m repeating myself too much and someone tells me that it’s the first they have heard this. 

This also goes for presentations.  What are the top 3 things you want your audience to come away with?  Say it.  Repeat it. Say it again.


How does a good leader build trust with their team?

To build trust, along with all of the above, a good leader should also model the behaviour they want to see in their team members. If a leader is transparent, honest, and consistent, they will inspire trust in their team.

You shouldn’t be saying to your team, “Do as I say, not as I do!”

A leader should take the time to build relationships with their team members, get to know them on a personal level, and show genuine interest in their well-being. 

There is a level of balance here, however.  Obviously you don’t want to be too involved in their personal lives!  But being interested in them rather than just how many tasks they complete is really important.

I also feel that a leader should hold themselves accountable for their actions, admit mistakes, and take responsibility for their decisions. This is probably one of the quickest ways that trust can built and destroyed with the team. 


Why is it important to be trusted as a leader?

Being trusted as a leader is essential for several reasons.

First, it encourages a positive work environment where team members feel safe to express their opinions, share their ideas, and take risks. This, in turn, leads to increased creativity, productivity, and innovation.

Second, trust enables effective communication, which is critical for team collaboration and problem-solving.

Third, trust creates loyalty and commitment among team members, which leads to better retention and engagement, which is so important when you have a small team!  


What does trust in leadership look like?

Trust in leadership looks like a team that feels safe, respected, and valued. It looks like a team that is open and honest in their communication, collaborative in their work, and committed to achieving common goals. It also looks like a leader who is transparent, honest, and consistent in their behaviour, decision-making, and communication.



    1. Try our Quiz!  Financial Leadership Foundations Scorecard.  
    2. Register for the mini-course, Upgrade your Management Accounts and get noticed by the business 
    3. Work with me in the Financial Leadership Foundations course  that includes monthly Q&A sessions where we can discuss all of your questions and how to apply your learnings to your current role. 
    4. Work with me as a Founder needing guidance and support from experienced Finance leaders. Take a look at our guide on Outsourced bookkeeping.





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