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West And Cronk (Strategic Finance 2011) Essay

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FINANCIAL OFFICERS AS ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERS: LESSONS LEARNED FROM IMPLEMENTING PERFORMANCE-BASED BUDGETING Timothy D. West PhD CPA Associate Professor of Accounting Northern Illinois University COL Marcus W. Cronk MBA MPA Chief Financial Officer U.S. Army Medical Command

Although we may seldom think of accountants as great military leaders, consider this message delivered to U.S. Army resource managers by the Army’s Deputy Surgeon General, Major General David Rubenstein, at the 2010 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference in San Antonio, TX: I recognize that you are not seen as delivering direct patient care. However, I personally thank you for the role you play in Army medicine. I also want to thank you on behalf of a wounded Soldier on a mountaintop in Afghanistan, an Army mom giving birth to a child, and an aging Veteran at the end of his life in an Army hospital. Without your efforts to effectively allocate needed resources, encourage the efficient use of those resources, and highlight performance improvement opportunities, our clinicians could not deliver the high quality care our Soldiers and their Families deserve. Thank you and never forget the importance of your roles as problem solvers within the organization. Too often, we envision leaders as heroic, natural-born and charismatic. Heroic leaders are seen as motivating followers to act selflessly in pursuit of a common just cause. The heroic leader model, however, fails to capture how most management accountants and other financial managers operate dayby-day. Based upon our work with financial managers to improve resource allocation decisions across the Army’s fixed facility healthcare system, we have developed an alternative and perhaps more salient definition of leadership: Leadership is a problem-solving, risk-taking endeavor to change how others think and act. Whenever finance professionals actively engage in trying to solve an organization’s problems, they do take risk because...

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