Dan Owens, CPA, MBA, CCIFP
VonLehman, CPA & Advisory Firm
Two of my most important leadership roles are in generating new business and helping ensure the excellence of the services our firm provides. Doing both of these well requires earning and keeping the trust of those with whom I work. Being trustworthy has two components: competence and integrity. Being competent in your profession is a must for others to believe that you can accomplish a certain task. But trusting a leader to do things right does not necessarily mean they will always do the right thing. The people you work with must believe that you will keep your word, you can be trusted to do what you say you will do and that your decisions and actions will be legal, ethical and moral.
General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., who led the 1991 Operation Desert Storm invasion of Iraq, said, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” The character of a leader makes more of a difference in their ability to motivate, guide and get things done right than being the best in their field. However, the two of those together is a very potent combination, indeed.
Chief Financial Officer
Cafco Construction Management LLC
Walk the walk; talk the talk. Ideally, a leader needs to be the most experienced and technically competent person in the group, division or company. A truly great leader can communicate the mission, vision and values of the organization. Because he/she lives it every day through his/her actions, that leader is teaching employees how to think, act and represent the company in a fashion that matches the strategic vision of the leader. When there is someone in the room that is more knowledgeable or capable, a great leader is confident in letting the more competent person lead. Often, a leader has to make on-the-spot decisions, and the ability to gather information from those more closely associated with the project is critical to the success of the decision-making process.
The bottom line is that communication—good, consistent, two-way communication—provided beforehand is critical to making the best decisions. A leader also has to be engaged. That means investing time in talking with employees, and not talking at them. These characteristics set a leader apart from just any individual with a title.
Samantha Hutchison, CCIFP
Chief Financial Officer
For any company leader, being involved in relevant industry associations and organizations is paramount to his/her success. My role as an executive officer of the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) provides an opportunity to focus on the development and achievement of the association’s strategic plan and the goals that make us successful now and in the future. I also have a chance to learn from fellow leaders, who bring different experiences and alternative ways of thinking about issues, which has broadened my perspective when evaluating new challenges and opportunities. Thinking more strategically about my company’s goals and future direction, while having a more open mind to the changes necessary to move us forward, are key aspects in improving my ability to contribute to my company’s success in my role as chief financial officer (CFO).