A CFO’s role in creating a culture of celebration: 7 steps to take

11/17/2023 00:00:00 +0800
I'm still revelling in the inspired energy created by the Australian CFO Awards held earlier this month. As one of the co-founders and major sponsor of the Awards, joining our Australian finance community at the gorgeous Calyx at The Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney for an evening of celebration was a real highlight.
Self-advocacy for CFOs
Subsequent to the awards evening, I was asked by one of my CFOs how she can position herself to win one of those awards in the future. But no, she didn't ask so directly because like many CFOs, she's humble and doesn't like to brag about herself especially to others! She shared her conflicting feelings with her question...that being, I don't want an award for ego, but I as so inspired to see all those incredible finalists and winners that I want to know how I lift!
In the professional realm, accolades serve as a testament to one's achievements and contributions. However, for CFOs, the reality of self-nomination for awards often evokes hesitation. It's seen as a bold move, but in fact it's a strategic step for CFOs seeking growth and clear positioning in the market.
The link between self-advocacy and executive presence
It's fair to say, this link doesn't come easy to most CFOs. CFOs are typically humble, not status driven and while it is a stereotype, many are introverted so prefer to be in the quiet. They buy into the belief that 'my performance will speak for itself' because quite honestly, that's what we were told to believe when we were growing up. Sadly, however, this approach doesn't work if your performance – ie what you're doing on a day to day basis - doesn't position yourself in the way you want in front of the people you need.
The 4 mindsets of executive presence
I see there are typically 4 levels of mindsets of CFOs that influence how likely they are to put themselves out there.
Level 1: Avoidance: These CFOs are so uncomfortable putting themselves out there, they just simply won't. In fact, they will actively avoid any opportunity or requirement to do so.
Level 2: Ignorance: These CFOs are so caught up in the activity or priority right in front of them, they don't see anything else. Because they're so blinkered, they miss other opportunities to elevate.
Level 3: Relevance: These CFOs know the opportunities to step up and advocate for themselves exist, but don't see the point in putting themselves out there. What these CFOs are missing is the sense of urgency they think needs to be present to drive priorities.
Level 4: Significance: These CFOs know that self-advocacy is simply a part of being a leader. That everything they do is about role modelling best practice and that how they show up every day is what defines their level of executive presence.
The 7 Steps to Stepping up for CFOs
If you're a value driven CFO who wants to (or knows that they need to) step up, then perhaps thinking about nominating yourself for an internal (to your company) or external (like the Australian CFO Awards) recognition is something you can put on your 2024 goals.
Here are 7 steps to make that a little easier for you:
1. Embrace Self-Nomination
The journey to an award starts with the willingness to self-nominate. It's not merely about self-promotion; it's a recognition of your dedication and impact. CFOs must transcend the humility that often hinders visibility and embrace the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments.
2. Understand the Mechanics
Knowing the award's criteria and the nuances of the nomination process is critical. Most awards have specific requirements and constraints that nominations must adhere to, making understanding these rules the first step in creating a standout application. But don't let this get in the way...CFOs have a tendency to overcomplicate things so it's almost never as bad as you think!
3. Tell a Compelling Story
Your nomination is more than a formality; it's a narrative of your professional journey. It should illustrate not just what you have done but how your actions have propelled your organisation forward. The ability to articulate your story, aligning it with the award's values, is paramount.
4. Highlight Your Unique Value
What distinguishes a CFOs in a sea of nominations is the unique value they bring. It's crucial to go beyond generic accomplishments and illuminate how your initiatives have crafted significant change, driven innovation, or enhanced organisational culture. The same goes for your LinkedIn profile and your CV. Trust me - 90% of all CFOs look exactly the same on paper. Know your edge so you can shine.
5. Quantify Your Achievements
Quantitative evidence of your impact speaks volumes. Concrete data that illustrates the outcomes of your strategies and decisions can significantly bolster your case. Whether it's cost savings, revenue growth, or efficiency improvements, numbers can be a compelling advocate. Last week I shared one way we do this for our CFOs.
6. Broaden Your Impact
Awards often recognise CFOs who impact beyond their immediate scope. Show how your influence extends into non-traditional areas, how it reshapes the broader business landscape, or even how it contributes to community and societal betterment. Think about the impact you've had on culture, on customer or employee retention (or acquisition) and even the volunteer work you do in the community. How is your contribution impactful and unique?
7. Master the Art of Conciseness
Given the brevity required in nominations, mastering the art of concise writing is crucial. The ability to distill your accomplishments into a succinct yet powerful submission is what will make your nomination shine in a pool of many.
How to create a culture of celebration in within your team
Remember you're a role model for your people, your business and the community you operate in. It's an important responsibility. So whilst the 7 steps above relate specifically to putting yourself out there to win and award, consider the hundreds of people at the Australian CFO Awards that left the event inspired and energised by celebrating the achievements and accolades of their peers.
If you don't want to win for yourself, win for your people.
Do you have a culture of celebration?

What would be the impact if you and your team put yourself out there?
How good would that feel?!

Author: Alena Bennett

Alena works with leaders and their teams to connect technical and leadership skills so they can deliver to deadline without killing their people.
She is a mentor, trainer, facilitator and coach. Contact her today on [email protected].
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 ⓒ 2023




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