The Great Leaders Make Excellence A Habit

Often, one of the major differences between superb leaders and the vast majority of those in leadership positions, is what they demand of themselves, and what quality of work or results they are satisfied by. Aristotle wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act but a habit.” In over three decades of working closely with over a thousand leaders, qualifying, training and developing them, I have always emphasized that since a true leader’s attitude and expectations often dramatically impacts the results, that leaders must never settle for less than their best efforts.

1. There is no such thing in leadership as good enough. Since others look at a leader for guidance, the leader’s expectations often become others goal, and it gives them something to aim for. So much organizational success is dependent on planning, and making sure all details, action plans, etc., are articulated clearly and communicated adequately, and thus when a leader accepts less than his own personal best, it is not surprising when others settle for even less. Great leadership only occurs when a leader is able to effectively motivate others to understand and believe in his vision, and that vision’s importance and value to the organization and its members.

2. It is often easiest to observe this difference between demanding excellence and accepting mediocrity when one objectively looks at the performance of financial officers. Since this type of office is, by necessity, often most involved and detail oriented, only someone who is willing to look at the what is, what was, and what could and should be, is truly great at this position. Unfortunately, these types of financial officers are the exception and not the rule, as we generally observe office holders who are either unable (due to inadequate training, skill or expertise), or unwilling to do what is necessary to do the job with excellence. As important as leadership training is important for any position, financial leadership training is far more involved and detailed. Unfortunately, in my over thirty years of experience and observation, I have witnessed that only a small percentage seem to strive for excellence.

3. Leadership training requires training, then learning and then effective utilization of that knowledge and skills. Part of leadership training should be hands- on experiences under qualified guidance, so that an individual can learn and apply that knowledge in phases. This repetition is what makes it a true skill.

It is important to differentiate repetition from skilled repetition. Just as a great athlete only becomes great when he practices, using proper form and concentration, a leader will only become great when excellence is the only thing he might even consider. Leadership is multi- phased, and a true leader becomes accomplished in all aspects of areas that might have a bearing on his excellence. It also requires a mindset or attitude of demanding excellence of himself, and emphasizing communication, understanding and effective listening, combined with absolute and unbending integrity.

Richard Brody has over 30 years consultative sales, marketing, training, managerial, and operations experience. He has trained sales and marketing people in numerous industries, given hundreds of seminars, appeared as a company spokesperson on over 200 radio and television programs, and regularly blogs on real estate, politics, economics, management, leadership, negotiations, conferences and conventions, etc.

Responsibilities of a Nonprofit Finance Committee

The Finance Committee is a standing committee of the Board of Directors and is typically chaired by the Board Treasurer. The committee is responsible for reviewing and providing guidance for the organization’s financial matters. Specifically, the committee assures internal controls, independent audit, and financial analysis for the organization.

The Finance Committee reviews all financial statements and reports on financial activity to the full board. The full board may be better able to respond to aggregated information with important financial trends and issues highlighted in an accompanying narrative report. While each board member should have the opportunity to review organization-wide income and expense reports to understand the impact on the organization, members who are inexperienced at reading financial statements may get lost in overly detailed statements. To help the board fulfill its oversight function, it is important for the Executive Director and the Finance Committee to present the information in as clear and concise a manner as possible.

Here are the Finance Committee’s basic responsibilities:

1. Provide direction for the entire Board for fiscal responsibility.
2. Regularly review the organization’s revenues and expenditures, balance sheet, investments and other matters related to its continued solvency.
3. Approve the annual budget and submit it to the full Board for approval.
4. Ensure the maintenance of an appropriate capital structure.
5. Oversee the maintenance of organizational-wide assets, including prudent management of organizational investments.

Here are some specific tasks the Finance Committee might undertake:

1. Review revenues and expenses at a monthly Committee meeting.
2. Ensure that organizational funds are spent appropriately (i.e., restricted funds).
3. Develop an investment strategy.
4. Ensure the preparation of an annual audit, tax form (990), and audited Financial Statements.
5. Provide support to staff as needed.

A committee of about 5 or 6 knowledgeable people should be able to provide invaluable financial leadership to your Board.

Practicing Delayed Gratification

The idea of delayed gratification is that the reward should not prevent an individual from achieving future goals within his/her life’s vision. Now, as we have witnessed in our current financial crisis, many people have not practiced delayed gratification. In fact, many of us practiced the exact opposite, instant gratification, by buying whatever our hearts desired, funded by cheap credit from an overzealous and sometimes unscrupulous banking industry.

Many of us were all too happy to use this cheap credit to purchase high priced items from jewelry, to clothes, to cars, to homes that are now coming back to bite us in the you know what. The consequences for American’s lack of financial discipline over the past decade has led the world into a global financial crisis, which will likely get worse before it gets better. But, there is a silver lining in all of this. What could it be you ask? Well, this crisis gives us all the opportunity to take some timeout and examine our spending habits and how these habits helped get us where we are today. I believe that now is as good a time as any to begin developing our financial leadership.

Now, let’s be real, we can blame the banks for giving out cheap credit.
We can blame the federal government for encouraging the banks to give out more home loans to subprime borrowers.
We can blame one anther for buying things we knew were a bit out of our range.
However even if all of this were true, we must still look inward to begin to explore and understand our contribution to the current financial crisis America finds itself in.

Ask yourself:
How have I contributed to my own financial crisis?
What questionable financial decisions have I made? And what can I learn from these decisions?
Be clear, if we don’t explore this issue from an inside-out vantage point, we are domed to fall back into this destructive pattern as soon as the economy rights itself.

The biggest and most penetrating question that you have to ask yourself is: Can I truly afford my lifestyle?

Dr. Barrett has an earned PhD in applied management and decision sciences, with a specialization in leadership and organizational change. He also holds a MS in organizational leadership and a BS in organizational management. In addition to these degrees, Dr. Barrett has completed several executive certificates focusing on various areas of management and leadership development.

Business Intelligence For Financial Processes

Business intelligence or BI for short refers to the technologies, skills, practices, applications and solutions that are now used in order to help a certain business to get a hold of better understanding regarding its commercial context. There are also some people that pertain to business intelligence as the act of collecting the relevant data so that they can turn into business benefits in no time. The data are then turned into information, which the business will use so that they can distribute them to the right people in the right format to make decision that will drive business gains. Now the question is: what is business intelligence for financial? Better yet, how do you measure your company’s BI in terms of financial matters?

Most people do not really know how to answer that due to the fact that the organization that they are working on is just about to get into that field. Even though this is the case, there is a great need for them to learn more about the financial business intelligence. So what is this? In general, this is the process that involves getting sets of information that are useful. These groups of information are not just any other type of data that they encounter because they actually come from financial data. Now, onto the next question: how do you measure this BI? The answer can be simplified by making the big picture smaller. You will have to include objectives that will allow you to create a vision that involves financial leadership, coach your company to set rational goals and support the best possible decision making processes.

So now you may wonder why you should make use of the business intelligence for financial when you have your information system department to provide you with new details. Well, if you have been running and managing you company for quite some time now, you will find it tiring to as your IS department whether there are new sets of information available right? In addition, what you may have been asking for may not be the ones that they will provide you with. Everything could have been perfect if your IS support staff knows and understands the difference between credit and debit and the YTD or the year to date balances but clearly, this is not a necessity for them. You will have to hire specialized IS personnel that has knowledge on these aspects, which is of course a costly feat. This is where the financial BI enters.

Since it is hard or even impossible for you to meet the needs for updated and fresh information in every department, the business intelligence for financial is your solution. The proactive approach here is to make sure that your financial department is self supplied with well-timed financial details and data that are of better quality so that they will be able to meet the boundless request for new and more information. Bear in mind though that there are quite a number of factors that will affect how easy or how hard this can be for you. With the business intelligence for financial, you can accomplish this task appropriately.