How, or even whether, finance executives “unplug” while on vacation has been a hot topic this summer. 

In June, CFO.com reported survey results from Robert Half Management Resources

More than two-thirds, 69%, said they typically check in with work at least once or twice a week during their summer vacations, only a slight dip from the 74% tallied five years ago. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed check in at least once a day and sometimes more. Only about a quarter said they don't check in at all.

With only 26% of CFOs reporting that they unplug totally on vacations, Accounting SmartPros listed five tips to help finance executives plan their unplugged getaways.

Interestingly, a tweet from one of my followers in mid-summer said this …

My wife and I, on vacation, kids asleep, sitting on the couch, & what are we doing? Checking our Twitter feeds on our phones!

Although they weren’t “working,” they weren’t unplugged either. It describes our new culture of constant connectedness which is somewhat anti-socially social. 

Our poll at SmartBrief for CFOs last week asked about being unplugged during vacations. It apparently struck a nerve with that audience, eliciting a very high number of responses. While the numbers were quite similar to the RHMR survey, I found the 25% who said they were really just working in a vacation environment very telling.

That response may speak to a bigger story … and that is succession planning. The most brilliant of leaders are always grooming their successor (and I by no means am implying anything here). While this doesn’t preclude a CFO from having to handle a major issue while on vacation, it might allow him to feel confident that short of a “true emergency,” he, his company, and his career are all on solid footing while he’s incommunicado. And that security and freedom to totally get away can be a much needed refresh and recharge for finance leaders today.

The truth is that ensuring you have a well-groomed successor, rather than being a threat to your position, actually frees you to make the next move in your career, adds to your leadership skill set, and looks great on your resume. 

With Labor Day and the end of summer right around the corner, what can you put into place today that will allow you to have a fully, unplugged mental health holiday on your next vacation?

Will this be the Decade of the CFO?

At the end of 2008, The Economist published this prediction for 2009  … 

“As financial skills are valued more highly, CFOs will make it to the corner office in greater numbers than before. Recession, credit crunch and the increasingly complex nature of global companies will all play directly into the bean counter’s hands. Nominations committees will throw their trust behind the guy who has protected the creditworthiness of a company in hard times and won the trust of the market; they will pick him for the top slot rather than poaching an expensive star CEO from outside. This will be bad news for headhunters (who will vainly try to make good the shortfall by meddling in internal succession instead), but also bad news for CEOs’ bank balances as top salaries will halt their ever-upward march.”

Well, it’s 2010 and it seems the trend continues. In fact, Tom Hood wonders in a recent blog post if this might be the decade of the CFO. I believe he’s on to something. In fact, I’ve blogged about this numerous times including one I penned last year entitled, CFOs as CEOs.

A recent survey by Robert Half Management Resources revealed …

… this trend [longer tenure] is having another positive effect on CFOs: "Because of their growing view of the entire enterprise and increased interaction with the board of directors, financial executives are now more frequently considered serious candidates for CEO roles."

What do you think. Will this shaping up to be the decade of the CFO? If so, are you well-positioned within your organization to be that high-value target?