Learning Leader Alert: The Relationship Between Business Acumen and Leadership Mindset

Managers make decisions every day, whether financial, customer-related, employee, and/or organizational decisions.

They can make those decisions solely through the lens of their own job responsibilities, departments, and personal goals, or… 

They can make them in sync with the bigger picture, aligned with their organization’s strategies, vision, and financial goals. With many employees working from home, it can be difficult to get a 30,000-foot view of what’s happening in the organization, so it’s important to remind them of the bigger picture. Encouraging employees to be a part of something larger than themselves helps drive a leadership mindset. 

While both contexts are important, the holistic context is especially critical. It provides a framework for managers to operate collectively with other leaders in order to contribute to the organization’s success. Think of that context as an “organizational leadership mindset” that drives decision-making to align with strategic imperatives. 

Mindsets can be defined as the beliefs managers hold that shape who they are, how they lead, and the ways in which they interact with their teams. Mindset is critical because it drives every decision and every action taken by a leader. It influences the culture surrounding their team, and in the broader organization. It impacts whether the leader first analyzes and internalizes information or makes quick judgments. It shapes decisions around how to focus efforts that align with a company’s vision in areas such as innovation, talent leadership, and growth. 

So how can learning leaders help managers develop this kind of holistic and strategic organizational leadership mindset?

One essential way is to ensure that managers and key leaders fully comprehend the organization’s financial goals and metrics and that they develop a deep appreciation for the “levers” that drive the achievement of those goals. In short, they must have a high level of business acumen.

Business acumen is an in-depth understanding of how a business makes money and how strategies and decisions impact financial, operational, and business growth goals. It combines financial literacy (the ability to understand numbers on financial statements) with business literacy (the ability to recognize how behaviors, actions, and decisions affect the numbers to drive profitable and sustainable growth). 

When leaders develop a strong foundation of business acumen, they are more likely to use that knowledge to:

  • Make well-informed decisions within their own sphere of influence that aligns with company goals
  • Engage and guide their employees and teams in directions that are in sync with the big picture

Learning and development professionals have an opportunity to significantly impact the development of holistic leadership mindsets throughout the organization by identifying, implementing, and reinforcing business acumen training approaches that drive financial and strategic literacy. Providing hybrid-based business acumen learning solutions creates and engages a leadership mindset for employees.

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