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Elevate Your Role: Become the Ultimate Finance Business Partner

Hey friends! If you’re on a mission to make your mark as a finance business partner, then you’re in for a treat. In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the realms of leadership, executive presence, and game-changing strategies that will not only help you climb the career ladder but own it.

Let’s start at the beginning. You’re not just a number cruncher; you’re the financial visionary guiding the ship. As a finance business partner, you’re not confined to your spreadsheets—you’re a strategic player in the grand game of business. You’re the wizard who deciphers financial insights and translates them into actionable strategies that drive the company forward. It’s not just about financial reports; it’s about making a tangible impact on the bottom line.

As strategic business partners, finance professionals are collaborating across departments, interpreting financial data to offer meaningful insights, and actively contributing to the development and execution of business strategies.

This transformation marks a new era where finance’s influence extends far beyond spreadsheets, ushering in an era of dynamic collaboration, growth-oriented leadership, and a holistic approach to driving corporate success.

Building Executive Presence: Your Leadership Aura

Imagine walking into a room, and heads turn, not just because of your impeccable outfit, but because of the aura of confidence and authority you radiate.

That, my friend, is executive presence, and it’s your ultimate power tool.

It’s not just about what you say; it’s about how you say it and the energy you bring to the table. Stand tall, own your space, and let your energy fill the room. 

Here are some tips to enhance your executive presence:

  • Confident Body Language: How you carry yourself speaks volumes. Maintain good posture, make eye contact, and use purposeful gestures. When you exude confidence through your body language, others are more likely to see you as a capable leader.
  • Effective Communication: Mastering the art of communication is paramount. Speak clearly, concisely, and with conviction.Speaking with conviction I’ve found creates confidence. Tailor your message to your audience, whether you’re presenting to the board or collaborating with your team. Thoughtful and articulate communication reinforces your credibility. 
  • Active Listening: Executive presence isn’t just about speaking—it’s about listening attentively. Give others your full attention, ask insightful questions, and show that you value their input. Active listening demonstrates respect and fosters positive relationships.
  • Decisive Decision-Making: Embrace the ability to make decisions with conviction. Leaders with executive presence are known for their sound judgment and decisiveness. Analyze situations, weigh options, and confidently make choices that align with the organization’s goals.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Understanding and managing emotions, both yours and others’, is a crucial aspect of executive presence. Empathy, self-awareness, and the ability to navigate emotionally charged situations with composure contribute to your impact as a leader.
  • Adaptability: The ability to adapt to change and uncertainty demonstrates resilience and leadership acumen. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation.
  • Authenticity: Gravitas, the sense of seriousness and importance you convey, is a cornerstone of executive presence. However, it’s important to remain authentic. Don’t try to imitate someone else’s style; let your unique qualities shine.

Strategic Communication Skills: Making Numbers Speak

In the world of finance, numbers aren’t just digits; they tell stories.

As a finance business partner, your role involves more than crunching numbers—you’re translating data into insights that influence decisions. It’s about breaking down complex financial concepts into digestible information that resonates with different stakeholders. Mastering this art of communication is what sets you apart.

One of the best ways to help you become a better finance storyteller is to ensure you understand the business operations and understand them well. Understanding business operations and the key metrics that drive financial performance is akin to having a compass that guides strategic decision-making. 

By jumping into the inner workings of the organization, from sales and production to marketing and customer service, you can gain a holistic view of how each moving part contributes to the bigger picture.

You can then identify critical performance indicators, track trends, and make informed choices that optimize efficiency, allocate resources wisely, and ultimately enhance your ability to share the stories behind the numbers. 

Here are some ways to help you dive into understanding the business operations of your org better:

  • Dive into Cross-Functional Learning: Don’t limit yourself to your own department. Engage with colleagues from different departments to gain insights into their functions. This cross-functional learning helps you see the interconnectedness of various operations and how they collectively contribute to the organization’s success.
  • Study the Workflow: Take the time to map out the workflow of different processes within the organization. This exercise helps you identify bottlenecks, redundancies, and areas where improvements can be made. Understanding the flow of operations provides valuable context for making strategic decisions.
  • Analyze Data and Metrics: Get comfortable with data analysis. Regularly review key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics related to different aspects of the business. Analyzing data trends can uncover patterns, anomalies, and opportunities for optimization.
  • Walk in Your Customers’ Shoes: Understanding your customers’ journey provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your operations. From initial contact to after-sales service, experience your products or services from their perspective. This empathy helps you identify pain points and areas where improvements are needed.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask questions about processes, procedures, and goals. Whether you’re new to the organization or looking to gain a deeper understanding, seeking input from colleagues and stakeholders provides valuable context.
  • Shadow Colleagues: Spend time shadowing colleagues in different departments to witness their day-to-day activities firsthand. This firsthand experience helps you grasp the nuances of their roles and how they contribute to the organization’s objectives.
  • Attend Cross-Functional Meetings: Join meetings that involve different departments. This exposure allows you to understand the challenges, priorities, and collaborative opportunities that arise from these interactions.

Leveraging Data and Analytics: Your Insights Powerhouse

In today’s data-driven world, numbers aren’t just black and white; they’re gateways to insights.

As a finance business partner, you’re the Sherlock Holmes of data, uncovering patterns, identifying trends, and using them to shape strategic decisions. Your ability to turn raw data into actionable recommendations is your superpower.

I’ll never forget the time I stumbled upon a hidden gem in our sales data—a trend that hadn’t been noticed before. By highlighting this insight, we pivoted our marketing strategy and saw a remarkable uptick in engagement. It was a lesson in the profound impact of data-driven decisions.

Fostering Collaborative Relationships: We’re Stronger Together

Here’s a truth bomb: finance isn’t a silo; it’s a web that connects every aspect of the business.

To excel as a finance business partner, you need to build bridges, not walls. Collaboration is your secret sauce. Forge relationships with other departments, understand their goals, and collaborate on shared objectives. Your ability to work harmoniously across functions sets you apart.

A few years ago, I took over leading a team that for many years operated on an island. The amount of information they had was so little that every month about 50% of our company’s transactions were categorized as “Unclassified”. They had no idea what was happening in the company’s organization to understand what our spend was for.

But once I started building bridges from our team to the rest of the org and challenged them to really understand what was happening, what was a huge task to just code transactions became much simpler, our reporting was much better and the team came off the island.

Leading with Confidence: Embrace Your Inner Leader

Confidence isn’t just a trait; it’s a mindset. It’s about believing in your abilities, trusting your insights, and having the courage to speak up. In meetings, don’t hesitate to share your ideas and opinions. It’s not arrogance; it’s a display of leadership and conviction. Remember, you are a vital voice in the room.

Here’s your reminder: you have what it takes to elevate your role as a finance business partner. You’re not just influencing decisions; you’re shaping the future of your company. Your unique blend of skills, insights, and leadership will not only drive financial success but inspire generations of ambitious women to come.

Share your experiences and insights in the comments below. Let’s learn and grow together! So my challenge to you today is to take one bold step today—a step that aligns with these strategies. It’s not just a step; it’s a leap towards a brighter future. You’ve got this!

August 11, 2023

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From Cookieprenuer to a C-Suite Financial Executive, Liz knows that living outside the box is possible and wants to empower others to know they can do the same.

Financial Executive. coach. Female leader + AAPI Encourager.