Learning the skills of leadership: Terry Tsang CA
Are you gaining new responsibilities at work and not sure how to refine your leadership skills? Prepping for a leader role takes investment in your own skills, and guidance on pushing your career in the right direction.
Terry Tsang CA, Internal Audit Manager at Investec, recently experienced an increase in responsibilities at work that prompted him into refining his leadership skills.
CAs have the opportunity to benefit from a unique career development programme, designed specifically to promote innovative thinking and leadership skills at the executive level.
How important do you think career development is?
In my experience, most people tend to consider career development in terms of moving up the ladder and working their way through job titles. I actually think it's more of a personal progression.
Advancing at work is certainly a part of it, as a sign that you are getting better at your job - but there's more to improving your career so you can look back and acknowledge what you've learned.
Why did you decide to undertake the ICAS Executive Coaching Programme?
I saw it advertised in an email and happened to be moving into a leadership role where my management role was expanding. I was experiencing new challenges surrounding how to manage a team in audit, and how to manage and lead people as individuals, as well. I was learning some things on the job but I wanted a steer in the right direction.
What are the key lessons you have taken away so far?
Firstly, listening and what's called 'active listening'. There's nodding along while someone's talking and then there's actually understanding people, asking questions and turning it into more of a conversation.
Even people who have been in a leadership role for over 25 years are still learning and overcoming roadblocks.
Another thing I've learned, specifically from our group sessions, is that everyone has issues when it comes to leading people and working in teams. It can be reassuring that everyone has experienced or is still going through the same sort of obstacles as I am. It puts things into perspective a bit.
The final lesson has been that improvement is a step-by-step process. It's not a case of attending a training course or reading about managing people and you've immediately mastered it within two days.
Even people who have been in a leadership role for over 25 years are still learning and overcoming roadblocks. It's reassuring to know that, while I still need to improve, that's just part of the process.
How are you applying those skills to your role?
It helps to have that trigger in my mind. For example, with regards to active listening and perception, I can now call on that knowledge when I'm going to a meeting or dealing with a difficult situation. I'm always looking to apply the different techniques and approaches I have learned.
Mostly, the coaching is a constant in the back of my mind which makes the whole process of developing as a leader more enjoyable and valuable.
I find that, rather than worrying when an issue comes up, I'm almost glad that it has so I can use it as a learning opportunity. The programme has been very good in terms of setting up my frame of mind.
Has the course delivered on your expectations?
It has definitely given me a new way of thinking. The one-to-one coaching, in particular, has been very good for having a sounding board on all sorts of issues that I might be experiencing around leading and people management.
It's been good for me... to hear someone else's perspective and to learn to really listen to people.
It's hard to put a tangible figure on that but it's been good for me just to have someone to talk to, to hear someone else's perspective and to learn to really listen to people.
Would you recommend the ICAS Executive Coaching Programme to fellow CAs?
I would, with the caveat that you have to be prepared to apply the learnings yourself. It isn't a case of turning up for the training and leaving with it all ingrained - you have to keep gaining the experience of using that knowledge in order to really learn and develop.
I'm sure you can read plenty of books on leadership and listening skills and management techniques but, until you're really applying it, you can't really understand it.
The views and opinions expressed are that of the interviewee, and not Investec Bank plc.
Leading Figures, experts in coaching and consulting for finance and business professionals, have produced the ICAS Executive Coaching Programme to promote innovative thinking and accelerate the career growth of CAs. The next cohort of the programme will take place virtually from Spring 2021.
To find out more about growth mindset and our new programme, view our 'Coaching - The Growth Mindset' on-demand video.