The 2013 CFO

A friend of mine (thanks John) pointed me to the CFO Trend Talk newsletter issue that talks about the “new breed of CFO.” It corroborates what I’ve been seeing – and writing about – over the last few months.

Recently, a question posed in the Proformative forum asked about “top CFO leadership qualities and skills.” I believe my answer …

Aside from the technical finance acumen a CFO would naturally bring and the understanding that comes from being involved in operations, soft skills are in high demand … leadership, communication, team-building.

… was confirmed in the Trend Talk newsletter. Let me expound a bit on what I believe to be the critically-important “soft skills” that every Finance Chief needs in 2013 and beyond.

Leadership

What’s that old cliche … “if nobody is following you, you aren’t leading.” In ways few imagined a short 10 years ago, the Chief Financial Officer IS required to lead in these crazy and difficult economic times. Yes, CFOs are the #2, but they are often the only executives with financial skills and acumen -and- with a documented record of being able to solve the kinds of problems that speak directly to the bottom line. And money talks. It also fosters the desire of the company, Board, investors, and shareholders to keep you around.

The newsletter also speaks of the trend of CFOs moving to the CEO slot. I agree. In fact, there’s never been a better time to make that transition … if that is your goal. More and more companies need a financial expert to guide them through these current unchartered waters.

Communication

While most of the executive team holds a very similar communication style (just the facts please, and be brief); not everyone the CFO deals with delivers or receives communication the same way. A lack of communication, miscommunication, and wrong communication are often huge stumbling blocks in companies. Working effectively with others requires a strong ability to clearly communicate regardless of differing communication styles.

Good communicators are recognized through their ability to get things done. Your tangible record is proof of your ability to communicate at all levels … above, below, across, and externally.

Team building

If you can’t bring the other members of the C-suite, investors, shareholders, and Board members to the table and get things done, you’ll remain ineffective in your role. And, as I know you know, building consensus among a group of High D (Dominant) executives with different interests is no easy task. When you succeed, it’s noteworthy … both on your resume, your Linkedin profile, and in your messaging.

I’ll be part of the “Highly Effective CFOs” panel at the CFO Roundtable in Boston on February 13. If you’re there, please come say hello to me!

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