The role of a CFO has evolved in recent years. Previously, CFOs were seen as financial-specific decisions makers, often just numbers people. That, now, is not the case in the large majority of corporations. A 2013 Consero Chief Financial Officer data survey found that 81% of the 1000 CFOs surveyed felt that their company saw them more as a strategic partner that went beyond the financial elements of the business.
The CFO now serves as an influential figure in the company. Whether a junior reports to you or not, it’s the CFO’s job to lead by example and teach when possible. From efficiency to leadership, a good CFO can shape the future of the company and set the team dynamic and culture, just like any other executive.
It’s not just board decisions where a CFO now can influence the organization. Today, a CFO has the opportunity to ensure that the future of the company looks bright by having a hand in the recruiting and training of its youth talent. If you’re not taking this proactive approach, it’s time to consider doing so–especially if you find your company lagging in internal promotion candidates or you’re losing top candidates to competitors.
If you find yourself struggling to establish this relatively new CFO mentality to your workplace, start by considering your communication efforts.
You can talk to your colleagues or you can communicate with them.
Effective communication conveys goals, messages, lessons, etc. to your team members. Be it the newest hire, the board or investors, you must get the right message across. With clear communication, everyone understands what must get done.
When it comes to hiring, if you can identify and communicate ideal traits and skills in a new hire to your Hiring Manager, they are best positioned to recruit the right applicants. Without stepping on the toes of your colleague, you’ve conveyed a need the company wants to fill with its newest addition–thus, displaying your foresight for the company as a whole while remaining a respectful team player.
Once you’ve recruited the right youth additions it’s time to cultivate that talent into the future leaders of the business. The first thing you can do is establish goals for the junior team members. With a direct marching order, they know what is expected of them. In the ideal scenarios, they’ll excel and you’ll just need to occasionally check-in to ensure their development is at optimal levels.
In other situations, your leadership could help steer them back on track.
Righting Their Ship
Sometimes your junior team members won’t reach their goals. When this occurs, you can choose to watch them sink, or try to offer them a hand.
A CFO with effective communication skills can help steer the junior back by reminding them of the goals they need. While re-establishing goals, you can hone in on the struggles of the associate, possibly allowing you an opportunity to impart some sage advice to ease their woes. If you have specific examples of their work, you can serve as a vital leader to them as you pinpoint examples of areas where they can improve. By providing them direct examples, they now have areas to specifically revise and build upon. Now that the employee has direct, concise feedback, they once again know exactly what is expected of them. And they have the opportunity to succeed or fail.
Now comes the fun part: taking notice of emerging talent.
It’s amazing to see people learn, improve and then rise in the company. As CFO, you should be looking at your company’s rising stars. If you pinpoint the potential leaders of tomorrow today, you benefit all parties. You’re showing talented juniors that the company wants them for the long haul and believes in them. They know you are invested in their potential and want to see them flourish with your business.
Conversely, your company now has a new name to consider for future leadership. The fact that you made the call further affirms your acumen as a strategic leader in the business. It was already clear you had the knack to lead, but this helps cement your status as a strategic business partner.
It was already clear to the company that you know the dollars and figures. By taking these steps, they now also understand that you know what is important in growing the business.