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.