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Feb 01 2015
What Makes a Great Credit Manager?
Melissa Mickelsen, CCE, Geneva Rock Products, Inc.

What characteristics are needed for the "ideal" credit manager? What traits separate the so-so credit managers from the great credit managers? 

I recently reviewed several articles which claimed to have the secret. They each discussed several important and valuable qualities that make great credit managers. They argued that great credit managers are reasonable, knowledgeable, analytical, patient, proactive and fair. They suggested that these credit managers are able to look at the big picture and think outside the box, they have good people skills and negotiation skills, and they are able to multi-task. And of course, these individuals also possess integrity.

While it is interesting to note that each article classified different characteristics as the "top" traits needed for the ideal credit manager, certainly each trait is important and valuable. Credit managers who do not understand applicable laws, regulations and guidelines will struggle to succeed. Because credit managers must work closely with co-workers and customers to achieve positive results, people skills, negotiation skills, patience and fairness are essential. They need the ability to analyze a situation and make the best call for their company, which may sometimes require a compromise or a unique approach. And the list goes on.

Most likely each of us possess most, if not all, of the characteristics mentioned - but to differing degrees. We each have strengths and also areas where we need to improve. But, I believe it is that drive to consistently improve and continue learning that truly makes a great credit manager. 

We live in a constantly changing environment. Laws change, the economy changes, we change jobs, the people around us change, our roles change and our customers change. The definition of the "ideal" credit manager will also change in each and every situation. Different industries require different knowledge and skill sets. Each company will have unique processes and procedures. Changes in the economy significantly affect the approach to credit management.

Great credit managers possess the ability to adapt to changes and to grow. They are motivated and embrace opportunities for continued learning. They build on their talents and strengths, while recognizing weaknesses as opportunities to improve. They learn from mistakes. Great credit managers recognize the skills and talents of others and seek to learn from their knowledge and experience. And great credit managers share their own strengths and talents to help build others.