The 4 Stages of Leadership

It’s important that early-career finance and accounting professionals don’t skip steps as they develop and grow their careers.

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It’s important that early-career finance and accounting professionals don’t skip steps as they develop and grow their careers.

In the latest How I Got Here, SVP and Global Treasurer at PayPal Aaron Anderson broke down the four stages of leadership, the factors he considers when making career decisions, and his advice for those looking to move up the ranks.

1. Can you lead yourself?

Can you show up to class on time? Can you show up to work on time? When you're given a task, can you complete it?

2. Can you lead one other person?

Now you're in your second or third year in your career. Can you mentor someone? Can you take on someone and really help them? And really pour into them and say, look, it's not about me getting better, it's about helping you get better. And maybe you'll be better than me one day. There's a quote I like:

You finally become an adult when you realize it's not about you anymore.

3. Can you lead a team?

We get promoted historically by how good we do something. But then when you get to that third step of team leadership, it's less about what you do, and it's more about what you enable. And that's a very different skillset. Because the natural tendency for high performers is, well, just give it to me, I can do it better than you can.

And that's not leadership. That's focusing more on the output as opposed to focusing on creating a sustainable, high performing organization. And I think a lot of people get caught up in that.

4. Can you lead an organization of teams?

I feel like that's an even bigger chasm to jump for many people because the skillset to do that is no longer a technical skill set necessarily. You need that basis, but it's really about motivating teams and putting the right skill sets on the right tasks and understanding if you need to be directive in your leadership style or do you need to be more coaching in your leadership style? And how do you then bring out the organization potential?

And a lot of times we don't focus on that in our careers because we get to that point where if I just deliver this and I can deliver this amount of revenue, or I can deliver this amount of budget forecast accuracy, if I can deliver whatever it is we're delivering that defines success. And early in our career, yes, that's important. But as you progress in your career, you have to understand the skill sets that are needed in the next role are going to be different than the ones necessarily in your current role.

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