When I was an assistant controller, my boss at the time was fond of saying the following about our general manager, “I could do his job, probably not as good as he can, but I could still do his job.
“BUT,” he continued, “he could never do mine – he doesn’t know how to, he is not an accountant.”
This is a powerful message to get into your DNA as a financial leader.
Do not get me or my statement wrong. It is not about arrogance or being better than someone else. It is about realizing your role, your responsibilities and what is at the core of your being is different than most of the other managers and leaders you work with, even your boss.
We are special and our skills are very specific. We can see, detect, analyze and interpret accounting information and guidelines that someone who does not have these skills or training could never do. They cannot fake it or make it up or just use good judgement to make decisions. Our world does not work that way.
We are like an electrician. If you didn’t know how to wire up a house, you would (or should) not touch the wires or the boards. Accounting is the same. If you are looking at the books and you do not have the training, you will not be able to make heads or tails out of it.
Back to the house – we could all be general contractors – that is what your boss is. In this scenario I’m assuming your boss is a general manager or operational manager. He is a generalist in the sense that he or she oversees the entire operation.
So, why is this an important distinction to get? We need to know that we are special, and our opinions and decisions are not based on the same criteria that your GM uses. We need to know that our opinions and decisions are the ones that count on financial matters related to how we do our accounting. The policies and procedures that form the backbone of our trade are not negotiable like they would be with marketing and sales direction, or revenue management decisions, for example.
As financial leaders we are like doctors and lawyers. Our professions are self-governing and as such the integrity of the processes and methods we use is paramount. I am not saying we should be arrogant or in any way disrespectful. Just the opposite. We need to know our self-worth and value that we bring to the business through employing the accounting principles, GAPP and USALI. Standing behind these pillars when others would have us lay down on the job.
In my experience, unfortunately, I see too many financial leaders give away their power way too easily.
What do I mean exactly? This is it: allowing the boss to dictate the accounting direction and have undue influence in the financial process and abusing established controls. Things like which invoices get processed, when things get approved for payment that are questionable, basic internal controls that get bent or ignored, events and situations that should not be happening that are allowed to happen. If you have read this far, I think you know exactly what I mean.
Many of the other people you work with do not see the black and white quite the way you do. What you see is what is appropriate and what is not based on your training and the profession you signed up for. You must pass these situations through the filters you have, the principles that should guide your decisions and actions.
If you work in an environment where things get done because someone says so and you know it is not right, then you have two choices:
One, stand up and put your foot down and take these individuals to task on what liberties they are taking or, worse still, the ones they are having you take.
Two, find yourself another job. In my opinion no job is worth having to look the other way and allow your role or what is right to be compromised. The buck stops with you. Isn’t that a big part of why you signed up in the first place?
So, remember they could never do your job and be reminded of the famous hotel movie quote, “Nobody puts baby in the corner.”
At Hotel Financial Coach I help hotel leaders and teams with financial leadership coaching, webinars and workshops. Learning and applying the necessary financial leadership skills is the fast track to greater career success and increased personal prosperity. I significantly improve individual and team results with a proven return on investment.
Call or write today and arrange for a complimentary discussion on how you can create a financially engaged leadership team in your hotel.