Are you left or right brained? Analytical or emotional? A number cruncher or a poet?
Although it might run counter to our initial assumptions, CFOs are expected to go “beyond the numbers” and manage key aspects of the business as a whole. We have seen the importance of understanding technology and operations, among other factors not directly related to number crunching.
Very critical is the CFO’s role in dealing effectively with people and relationships. A CFO needs to be approachable. To become CFO material, a finance professional needs to develop habits of ambiguity tolerance, composure, empathy, energy, humility, and confidence.
On that note, the international accounting and finance firm Deloitte has published a poetic and artistic description of the CFO’s twelve elements, which encapsulates the expansive requirements and responsibilities of the CFO’s job:
“As CFOs grow in stature and importance, they keep coming back to the same issues that form their agenda. The elements of the CFO Agenda represent a powerful framework for one of the toughest jobs on earth. Year after year, quarter after quarter, they endure.”
Here are the twelve elements and my summation of the messages:
- Truth – Be real. Know the true story and tell it.
- Growth – Plant and water. Make choices and commitments to move plans forward.
- Relationships – Work together. Manage relationships up and down, inside and out.
- Decisions – Root your insights in numbers. Don’t manage solely based on your gut.
- Capital – Manage business investments. Determine timing, amounts, and allocations.
- Disruption – Be discerning as technologies, industries, and markets constantly change.
- Crisis – Manage risks. Be ready to respond to various sorts of threats.
- Infrastructure – Be an enabler. Invest in tech, talent, systems, and solutions.
- Transactions – Research deals with the right criteria, calmly, thoroughly, and rationally.
- Transitions – Change is constant. Build your skills and reputation in the midst of it.
- The Street – Have give and take on forecasts. Be vigilant to represent the company well.
- Me – Provide solutions. Navigate through complexity to make things happen.
Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the presentation for yourself. Reflect on the messages. Do you agree or disagree with each of the elements and how they’re presented? How can you apply these insights in your work as you develop your career?