CFOs: Extroverts or Introverts?

There is a wild conversation going on in the Chief Financial Officer Network group on Linked In around whether CFOs are extroverts or introverts … and who is better! WOW!!

There are certainly some interesting observations and a few, like these, that defy logic and belief:  

–In the end a successful CFO of a medium or large organization has to be extrovert. 

–From my point of view, and with my experience (of course), an extrovert CFO is trustworthier than an introverted CFO.

–We are all here, so we must be all extroverted to some extent. Its the ones that are not here may be less so. 

First, while the labels of introvert and extrovert are often interchanged with shy and gregarious, these two terms really speak to where a person gets his energy. One can be a social introvert, but in small doses. In fact, while enjoying socializing, it can be exhausting. That person will need quiet time to rejuvenate. Conversely, an extrovert gets energy from a large group of people, noise, and activity. Left alone too long, an extrovert can quickly get depressed. This person feeds off the energy of other people, and the more people, the better.  

An outgoing CFO is indicative of a different communication and behavioral style than a CFO who is more reserved. Possessing strong people skills doesn't preclude one from being a great finance leader either. In fact, that difference in communication and behavioral style may actually make having a seat at the executive table a much more comfortable one.

One thing that I've observed is that my CFOs who have a strong operational background are typically much more people-oriented people than those who have come up through the public accounting/controller ranks and who are true bean counters. Accounting types tend to be numbers people and that person is probably always going to be more comfortable with numbers … if that is how he is wired.

In my opinion, it does not make any difference whether a CFO falls on the I or the E side on the Myers Briggs assessment … there is a place for both of them.