CFOs Are in the Catbird Seat When It Comes to Improving Executive Leaders

Yes, that’s right…improve people! CFOs are more than just a badass with numbers. Contrary to popular belief, CFOs have the greatest insights into where to improve the executive leadership team, and thereby improve the organization as a whole.

The CFO role is insightful and powerful! After having worked with several CFOs, I found they:

(1) Must Act Like Lion-Tamers

  • It does require a chair and whip to hold monthly meetings with VPs and challenge their performance.
  • It takes huge skill, confidence, and respect to move a pack of siloed executive teams to higher levels of collaboration and performance.

Bottom line: CFOs know which VPs/Executive Leaders need development because they meet with them every month at a minimum to review the budget. It’s a myth that high-level executives with big titles don’t need development.

(2) Have Eagle Eyes and Ears

  • CFOs have an integrated, big picture sense of the human challenges inhibiting progress in targeted areas.
  • The data trends tell them where progress is slowed, plateaued or backsliding. -They know who needs to be influenced or prodded to improve a trend.
  • They hear about barriers to progress from many sources (albeit sometimes through internal finger-pointing).
  • They are the closest partner with the CEO.

Bottom line: A CFO is one of the greatest trusted advisors within the organization.

(3) Lead the Pack

  • CFOs place mentorship high on the list and diligently grow their financial planning and accounting teams.
  • They have the best interest of the whole organization in mind.

Bottom line: CFOs know that people need to see good leadership and mentorship demonstrated.

(4) Never Forget…Or At Least Have Long Memories Related to Resources

  • CFOs require ROI justification for existing FTEs BEFORE allocating new requested FTEs.
  • They can drill down or expect all areas to clarify resource over/under-utilization.
  • They are judicious and tough when it comes to resources.

Bottom line: CFOs know that the greatest financial expense to the organization (outside of capital investment) is the employees.

(5) Know Where the Buried Truffles Are

  • CFOs have a sense of where people are diamonds in the rough.
  • They have a have knowledge, suspect or have heard where the strongest/weakest performers need to up their professional game.

Bottom line: CFOs know that improving the organization’s people, no matter the level is a leading measure of success.


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