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Highly Effective Financial Technology Leaders Constantly Innovate and Challenge the Norm

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Highly Effective Financial Technology Leaders Constantly Innovate and Challenge the Norm

Author: Colin Slight

Published date: 2021/07

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In this sixth and final article in our series on the 7 habits of highly effective financial technology leaders we speak to Colin Slight of The Realization Group and Thomas McHugh, CEO & Co-Founder at Finbourne Technology about how as leaders they don’t fit into the average box and how this innovative mindset helps them to thrive even in a crisis.

Innovation is in the nature of financial technology. It’s all about finding new and better ways of doing things, of challenging existing conceptions of what is possible and feasible. It’s an exciting space to be in, and an inquisitive mind and spirit of challenge are vital traits for its leaders. However, it’s all too easy to innovate in a vacuum, without thinking of how change can realistically be adopted and embedded within organisations and across the industry. 

Human beings fundamentally don’t like change. A leader can come in and question, can challenge and innovate but this has to be done with sensitivity and resilience. Successful fintech leaders are aware that you can’t just introduce something new without considering the context into which it fits, and how you’re going to ensure that it fits into the organisational culture.

Thomas McHugh, CEO & Co-Founder at Finbourne Technology, broadly agrees with this sentiment. “I describe it slightly differently; I really don’t like the term ‘challenging the norm’. Because that indicates disruption, and what most people don’t want in their life is disruption. And so I look at it in the context of one of the other habits of fintech leaders – creating efficiency, rather than challenging norms and bringing disruption to people. I look at it differently. As the leader of an organisation, you’ve got to set the tone from the top, and come up with a strategy and lay out the plan. The most important quality of leadership is recognising that you can always be wrong, that you will always be getting new information and that you have to figure out how you bring that information into the journey to make sure you don’t deviate too far off the path.”

Living through a global pandemic has taught us all to adapt rapidly to an uncertain external environment. In this series of blogs, we have seen how financial technology leaders have been adept at pivoting, listening to their customers and drawing on all their entrepreneurial talents to keep their businesses afloat and their teams motivated. In a world where ‘the norm’ no longer exists, creating the new normal and providing leadership and stability for employees and clients alike has perhaps been the most challenging task of all.