The place of leadership for finance professionals and investors

On December 1, 2019, I was invited to speak on the theme ‘The Place of Leadership for Finance Professionals and Investors’ at the ESFP 2nd dinner gala in Springfield Virginia. The room was jampacked. I reminded the audience that more than technical know-how and skills, soft skills are the determining factors to succeed in any field where finance isn’t exceptional. I also emphasized the importance of leadership development to succeed as a professional or an entrepreneur. I also shared three takeaways based on my personal journey as a leader and from great leaders, I have studied:

  • The first take away was the importance of purpose-oriented lifestyle, to take leadership (or initiate a project or open a business) that aligns with your purpose (or your cause, passion, calling, what have you). Be it GREAT business owners, inventors, change agents from history took leadership in the area which was very close to their heart- something they cared so much. Those who were out to chase just money, popularity, and things like that that are nothing to do with what matters to them the most intrinsically didn’t make it, even if they made it, it didn’t last. What about you? Are you serving where you are passionate? Are you leading a purpose-oriented lifestyle?
  • The 2nd takeaway from my speech on last Sunday was ‘leaders who 1st fix themselves can only fix what is on the outside of them’. I used to think that I am a leader to fix this troubled world, other people, and institutions than myself who needed huge fixing. Sadly, on a daily basis, we see novice to senior leaders out there who try to influence others before they do themselves, the most difficult being you will ever face. But, we cannot lead what we cannot manage. We cannot manage what we don’t know, and that is why self-awareness is the key and foundation to self-management and in turn self-leadership.
His Excellency Fitsum Arega, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the US
  • The last and third takeaway from my speech last Sunday was the need to develop and hone our leadership skills consistently if our desire is to succeed and continually excel as 21st C professionals, leaders, and/or entrepreneurs. Technical know-how and skills may take you hours or days (in some cases weeks) to understand and master. On the contrary, developing many of the soft skills necessary to lead may take you months, if not years. What is challenging, you cannot just develop and shelf them forever. You have to constantly improve them on a consistent basis without being tired. For example, initially, you may succeed to communicate in writing and verbally under normal circumstances. As you advance in your leadership and the more your scope increases, the more advanced communication skills you desperately need. For instance, ordinary communication competency you learned last year or ages ago doesn’t cut it when you find yourself in a stormy situation as you deal with a thorny customer, teammate, what have you. It doesn’t help as you struggle to lead your team out of a crisis.

As you can imagine, I cannot share here with you everything you should know, tools, models, and approaches you should use to work on your soft skills to take your leadership to the next level. I encourage you to read good books, attend seminars, webinars, get a coach, and most importantly, practice what you learn.

By the way, stay tuned, I’m going to start a weekly exclusive Facebook live to you…




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