Someone said, ‘money answers all things’. I can recall hearing my previous boss, many years ago, saying that ‘if one takes care of the pennies then the dollars will take care of themselves’. Both sayings can be accredited to very different individuals who can be considered to be worlds and civilisations apart. Nonetheless, both statements are filled with profound wisdom. In most organisations the accountability and transparency to which the financial affairs are handled are often an area of great concern, particularly to those with a vested interest in those organisations. Over the years we have observed, that the problem of mishandling and misappropriation of funds plagues organisations irrespective of the political, religious or civic foundation on which they were constructed. This has resulted in increased scepticism from John Public.
Consequently, our leaders have much to do to regain the trust and respect of our people. The easiest way to do this may be through transparency and strict accountability of all matters pertaining to the organisation particularly, financial matters. However, it is troubling that although these leaders agree that, ‘to whom much is given, much is required’, they seem to welcome the much that they are given, but often resent when the same much is required of them in return. Many leaders claim to be attacked, singled out and ambushed when the day of reckoning comes, and hence, calls for accountability are met with great disdain. One may venture to say, if there is nothing to hide then there is nothing to fear. However, if as a leader you have a tendency to make financial decisions fuelled by a personal agenda that is counterproductive to the goals of the organisation; it is understandable why you will have problems, when attempts are made to follow the money.
History has shown us that hubristic and self absorb leadership only fast tracks the organisation to hell. No single individual should have unfettered power over the financial affairs of an organisation. Therefore, organisations must have documented strict protocols in place to manage their finances. This should include proper record-skeeping which documents receipts and authorised disbursements, adequate internal controls and regular monitoring procedures. An organisation’s expenditure is an indication of the areas to which the organisation deems most important. Therefore, if you follow the money and it does not lead to the organisation’s goals then the leaders need to either rethink their goals or their financial management.
Dr. Wendyann Richardson is a Management Consultant who specializes in corporate governance, business operations management and refining of skills through training. She can be reached at [email protected]