The CFO’s Focus: Numbers or People?

“I like numbers.” If you’re a finance professional, this is the best cliche answer to avoid when responding to the question, “Why did you choose accounting (or finance) as a career?” Although we might like this answer because it is straightforward and we can’t think of anything else to say, our profession offers many opportunities to add value in the marketplace. Thus, we can better position ourselves if we have a reason for our work beyond “liking numbers.”

Traditionally, some of the best words to describe finance and accounting practitioners have been “logical,” “linear,” and “task-oriented.” However, business trainer Tom Steiner suggests adding a flavor of emotion into our professional dealings. The Journal of Accountancy drew some insights from Dr. Steiner on A nontraditional approach to financial management, and here are some of his tips:

  • Have a “positive mental attitude” (PMA). When challenges arise, rather than emulating C-class companies by cutting costs or B-class companies by hunkering down, “A-class companies create new niches and pump people up.” See your opportunities positively rather than being negative about challenges.
  • Respond quickly to changes rather than taking too much time and blaming your situation. Be agile in light of inevitable and rapid changes, and have short-term plans for best-case, worst-case, and middle of the road scenarios.
  • Securing trust is the best way to ensure rapid response to change. Actively work on building trust rather than asserting authority over employees whose trust you have not earned.
  • Help people get excited by making their work meaningful. Senior management needs to give clear guidance on the mission, vision, and values of the organization.

Dr. Steiner says to focus more on people than numbers. Read the entire article and check out Dr. Steiner’s website.