Lead your tax team with inspiration (not authority)


More than half of all employees around the world are giving the bare minimum of effort to their organisations, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce 2023 Report. This pervasive disengagement poses steep challenges to all managers and leaders, including those in tax departments.  

One of the most effective ways for tax leaders to improve employee engagement is by distinguishing between authority and leadership. Authority represents a position in the organisational hierarchy. Leadership is a skill that can be learned and continually improved to generate tangible results, including higher employee engagement and productivity, lower turnover, less burnout and more innovation. 

The value of those benefits has soared as workplace conditions have deteriorated, according to workplace research. A recent survey by human capital technology and services provider Alight finds that 34% of global employees “dread going to work or starting their workday”. And 31% of workers with high stress levels report that they are actively looking for a new job (vs. 11% of those reporting low levels of stress). Those findings square with Gallup’s study, which shows that:  

  • 44% of employees globally experienced high stress the previous workday, tying the record high level of stress that materialised in 2021; 
  • 51% of employees globally are watching for or actively seeking a new job opportunity; 
  • Most employees identify issues related to engagement, culture, pay and benefits or work-life balance as improvements they would make in their workplace. 

Those and other factors make managing difficult in the post-pandemic workplace. Skilled leaders must adjust to managing remote and hybrid teams, fostering inclusive cultures, retaining top talent (as competition for the best and brightest intensifies), upskilling staff, mitigating factors that contribute to employee burnout and supporting employee well-being among other priorities.  

That’s where inspirational leadership can help. While that term may sound a bit fuzzy, it’s a tangible skill that can be developed and enhanced through practical actions such as: 

  • Developing so-called “soft skills” like communication, adaptability, critical thinking, attention to detail and networking; 
  • Influencing your team through clear communications, a shared vision and persuasive messages; 
  • Addressing employee concerns with compassion when they arise and navigating interpersonal dynamics; 
  • Owning your decisions;  
  • Promoting and demonstrating the value of continuous learning; and 
  • Reflecting on your own leadership style and identifying areas for improvement through feedback. 

Employee stress levels are high right now. By putting inspirational leadership principles into practice, tax managers can improve productivity and engagement while sidestepping the brunt of the tax talent crunch.

Blog Author

Larry Mellon, Tax Directory, Vertex Inc

Larry Mellon

Tax Director

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Larry Mellon is a Tax Director in the Chief Tax Office, where he is responsible for providing insights, thought leadership and customer-centric direction to Vertex functional groups, supporting the continued expansion of Vertex indirect tax solutions and overall enterprise strategy. He has over 30 years of experience in sales and use tax compliance, risk assessment, jurisdictional audits, administration and management, as well as VAT compliance. Larry joined Vertex in 2005 as a Sales and Income Tax Supervisor and has served as Tax Manager since 2012, where he has played a pivotal role in elevating and advancing the company’s tax management offerings.

Prior to joining Vertex, Larry served as a Senior Tax Accountant and Property Tax Manager at Foamex International, Inc., a polyurethane and advanced polymer foam product manufacturer and marketer. Mellon also held multiple roles at The Franklin Mint and is a member of the Institute of Professionals in Taxation (IPT).

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