top of page

5 lessons on moving to a leader from a manager

Photo by Unslpash

I personally found the jump from Manager to Leader was a much bigger jump than from an Executive role to Manager.

Being an accountant, moving to Finance Manager was challenging. But after a few months of learning how to delegate tasks and learn about HR issues and different management styles, I had things relatively under control.

However, the jump to a Finance Director / CFO was a much bigger jump and took a couple of years to understand what it really entailed. At this level, self-study / training outside the business became much more important. As well as having the time to think.

Below are five things I have learnt over the years of being a leader.

1. Always look at least 12 months ahead

It’s so easy to spend your time looking at the problems and fires that need to put out today and not have the time to focus on the future.

However, this shouldn’t be your only focus as a leader.

A leader must spend time thinking about the future. Whether it’s working out how the team will grow / change to meet the demands of the business, or how the processes can be structured so they don’t fall over in 12 or more months’ time.

Blocking out time in your diary to plan is a must.

2. If you never ask, the answer is always "no"

This can refer to your actual career and getting what you want or deserve. It can also refer to asking for additional resources, additional headcount, and additional tools for your team.

I have seen over the last couple of decades mainly men and a couple of women ask for additional salary, additional holidays, additional benefits, mentoring, coaching, or training when joining a company or during an annual review.

I have also seen leaders build larger teams and get additional tools to help with the workload (and performance!), while others are having to stretch their teams to incredibly long hours and stress without the additional resources required.

For many of us, asking for more is terrifying. However, the reality is if you never ask then the answer is ALWAYS no.

So, ask, as the answer could be yes!

3.Confidence can be a real game-changer

When I first became a leader, I wasn’t very good at speaking up in meetings. I was scared and I didn’t want to look silly.

I then came across a very confident and respected Commercial Director. In meetings she had absolutely no hesitation in asking questions and asking people to explain what they meant. Instead of looking silly (my fear), her questions were welcomed by quite a few people in the room. And challenging the business to think about what they’re doing is what a great leader should do.

Photo by Unsplash

After watching her for a few months and gaining confidence in my own voice, I then had no hesitation to be confident in what I had to say and the questions I had to ask.

Joining in in the conversation and listening to everyone else’s point of view is very important, especially when you represent a whole team or department.

4.Focus on what you can control or influence, not on what you can’t.

The best lesson I learnt from a business coach that has never left me, was the difference between Direct, Indirect and No control.

Of all the issues or problems that were keeping me awake at night or were playing on my mind needed to be classified into 3 buckets:

1.Direct Control: the success or failure of this problem or task to hand was fully in control of my efforts.

2. Indirect control: I was part of a team for a particular issue OR I needed assistance from others to help me make this a success

3. No Control: as it says on the tin – I have no control of the outcome of this issue, task, or problem whatsoever.

What I learnt was that I spent too much time worrying and thinking about situations and problems that I had no control over. Being able to take a step back with the coach and reflect on this made it obvious to me that this was a complete waste of time.

Instead, my efforts should focus on what I have direct control over and ensure that these were to hand.

The other big learning for me, was to switch most of my efforts from what I had no control over to indirect control issues. How could I encourage other people or other departments to see what the finance team (in my case) had to offer or required from them to achieve the goals? And how could I spend my time listening to my team and other departments to ensure a collaborative culture?

5.You will be judged on your deliverables, NOT on how hard you work

This was more obvious when working in an office, than remotely. Who was in the office first? Who skipped their lunch break? Who was last to leave?

And in the remote world: who’s green light on slack is still on? When you’re a leader, this doesn’t matter. Your performance won’t be judged on how hard you work. You will be judged on what you and your team deliver. Your outputs.

Are you hitting targets? Are you hitting deadlines? Are projects completed on time with the expected or better result? Are you and your team adding value?.

Written by guest contributor Alysha Randall

About the author

Alysha Randall is a qualified accountant with over 20 years experience. Having come from successful Fast growth businesses, she is currently working as a Portfolio CFO, working with many small businesses as well as training future Finance Directors and other Senior Finance teams. She is an avid foodie & coffee drinker and cares about our future, being a Trustee for Sustainable Merton, as well as training future female leaders.


bottom of page