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AP Leadership

by Jamie Radford


Leadership with the accounts payable role is crucial to having a successful career. Not only do AP managers and team leaders need top-notch leadership skills, but anyone working with an AP role – from beginners right up to executives – needs to hone these skills. For some AP managers and AP staff who are required to lead team members, these leadership skills may not come naturally but this post will discuss the elements which should receive your focus…


Leadership encompasses many facets, not only the ability to lead and manage yourself, your workload, your team or an entire department. It includes the use of these too:


Decision making and taking responsibility

The ability to make decisions, act decisively and take responsibility for those actions is an important skill within the realm of leadership. If you don’t have this ability or you feel lacking in this area, it would be wise to take the time to learn how to become decisive. Many managers have this problem but there are numerous helpful books available on the subject.


Fixing mistakes and providing solutions

A good leader will make mistakes – that’s inevitable – but their leadership skill lies in correcting any errors of judgement and providing a solution quickly and efficiently. Being able to do this will help to build respect within the AP team.


Focusing on the bigger picture

For those managers and team leaders whose job depends on leadership ability, to create long term success, it’s important to focus on the bigger picture and not get lost in the detail. Taking the time to get to know your strengths is key to developing a team that respects your leadership. There will no doubt be areas where other members of staff may be better than you, and leadership means being aware of this and using the strengths of those team members to build a strong AP department.


Managing stress and emotions

There is nothing worse than a leader who loses their cool. Besides the fact that it eats away at the respect that staff will have for you, it’s unacceptable in any professional environment. If you experience any difficulty in managing workloads or controlling high-stress emotions, this is definitely one to work on. Nobody wants to work under a manager who can’t control their temper.


Setting realistic targets and rewards for achieving

A lot of your success as a leader will rely upon the employees within the department. Set targets for the team but don’t make them unachievable or difficult to achieve. Be realistic and you’ll be boosting team morale while members of the team try to reach them. Remember to set incentives too, because although reaching or exceeding targets is good for some, others will only strive if they are going to be rewarded on the other side – it’s basic human behaviour.


Asking for input

Making your team feel part of the decision-making process and showing a genuine interest in their input can massively help to boost morale and build trust in you as a leader. Allowing all members of staff within the department to feel like they matter, and fostering an inclusive environment, can help to build a strong team.


Building a strong team

As part of an inclusive AP department, tasking members of the team with arranging events or get-togethers will add a bit of fun to the role. You don’t have to arrange events all the time and stretch departmental budgets, but could do it when the team has excelled and over-achieved during a certain timeframe, for example. Staff outings also help to create bonds within the team and reduce work-related stress!



Being a leader within your AP career and showing leadership qualities even if you are only starting out on the first rung of the AP career ladder, goes a long way to boost career prospects and firmly position you as a valued member of any AP department’s team.


If you would like to learn more about cultivating leadership skills, have a look at our APA Team Leaders’ Certification here:






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