Soft Skills Needed For Leadership – Michael Dennis, CBF

Soft Skills Needed For Leadership

A credit manager can have exceptional technical skills but be considered an ineffective department leader because of poor interpersonal, communication or relationship-building skills.  I believe that any credit manager that does not have the skills needed to effectively lead, manage, mentor, and train their subordinates will not be a particularly effective manager.  Why?  Because department managers succeed or fail largely based on their ability to properly manage, retain, train, retrain, cross-train, lead, manage and motivate members of their credit team.

There are many credit professionals with exceptional technical skills who unfortunately have not developed the kinds of soft skills they need to be seen as a leader rather than simply as a manager.  What can you do if you feel that your soft skills have not kept pace with your technical skills?  The answer is that there are plenty of things you can do, including these:

  • Spend more time out of your office.  Get out to where the work gets done
  • Get to know the professional goals of each of your team members.  If you don’t already know the answer to this question already I can almost guarantee at least one surprise.  For example, someone’s goal may be to have your job, and another person’s goal might be to retire from the company in the same position they hold today
  • Stop focusing exclusively on improving your technical skills.  If you have any aspirations about advancement, remember that senior managers are selected more on their ability to manage people, projects and processes than on one or more technical skills.  To illustrate this point, consider this story about the legendary industrialist and innovator, Henry Ford.  When asked what Mr. Ford knew about his company’s tax and cost accounting processes, he responded that he knew where his cost accounting manager and tax accounting team sat — and that was exactly all he needed to know.
  • Read a book or take a class or attend a webinar about something unrelated to financial analysis, collections, deductions, and negotiations.  It could be a program on creative writing or speed reading.  The point is that to broaden your horizons you have to get out of your comfort zone
  • When interacting with people, think about how you can make the interaction more effective… not more efficient.  Your goal is to be efficient performing tasks and effective managing and interacting with the people you work for, the individuals who work for you and of course your customers and your sales team
Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM

Anyway, that’s my opinion.  What’s yours?

Michael Dennis’ Covering Credit Commentary. Michael’s website is

The opinions presented are those of the author.  The opinions and recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of CMA, or their Officers and Directors.  Readers are encouraged to evaluate any suggestions or recommendations made, and accept and adopt only those concepts that make sense to them.

5 Replies to “Soft Skills Needed For Leadership – Michael Dennis, CBF”

  1. This is pretty deep content for one day before a holiday. I know you are not telling us that technical skills are unimportant. What is you perspective on improving technical skills Michael?

  2. I love this public forum. As I recall, your outside interests while we worked together included at one time or another dance aerobics, yoga, boxing, distance running, and tennis.

    By the way, you looked great in the headband and leg warmers Michael.

    All the best


  3. Dorothy is not telling the truth… unless of course you have pictures… which you do not.

    I never should have given you this link.

    Your friend


    p.s. It is nice to lighten up these comments, but I think the Blog itself is really a useful tool for the average credit manager or credit professional

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