Why CFOs need to master unwavering confidence

11/10/2023 00:00:00 +0800

I've written previously about how important the CFO role is for CEOs. When we work with our CFOs in the Boardroom or in our Elevate team programs, we know that in order to be the CEO and Board's trusted partner and guide to the organisational growth, there are 3 key outcomes that form the basis of their unique CFO Sequence to Success. These are:

• Unwavering confidence
• Uncapped productivity
• Profound value

This week, I want to deep dive into the essence of unwavering confidence: the value of self-certainty in the role of a CFO.

Self-Certainty: The Leadership Keystone for CFOs

The hallmark of influential CEOs and financial officers is a robust sense of self-certainty. This isn't just about CFOs having confidence in their own abilities and it's certainly not about ego; it's about instilling confidence in those around them so they are sought after for hidden insights, not the other way around. When CFOs articulate their vision with certainty, it galvanises the entire organisation, encouraging others to buy into that vision and the decisions that stem from it.

Getting unmasked: The freedom of self-certainty

This week my family and I watched the finale of The Masked Singer. If you haven't watched it yourself, the concept is that celebrities dress up in an impressively elaborate mask/costume and they participate in a singing competition. The game is two-fold – the masked singers are trying to win as the best singer of the competitors and the judges' jobs are to guess who the celebrities are.

What I find fascinating about the 'unmasking' is that each celebrity – despite having a very public persona – admits to finding singing in a mask safe. Many of them are not singers by day (think Sandra Sully who has been gracing our TVs on Channel 10 news forever), but with the safety of the mask they step out and do something that's, quite frankly, terrifying for most of us!


What I love to watch is when they're interviewed once they get 'out' – when they share how they feel liberated by the experience. Even the 'real' singers (like Dami Im and Darren Hayes were the winner and runner-up this season, respectively) talk about the feeling of liberation and elevated sense of self-worth and confidence when they remove their mask.

That's what self-certainty and confidence is about. The self-certainty that you don't need to wear a mask to be 'on' at work.

Unwavering confidence: Power and Perception

In our pursuit of the outcome of unwavering confidence, we help our value-driven CFOs obtain the self-certainty to inspire confidence in others.

What this is really about is identifying where you sit on the Unwavering Confidence Spectrum. Are you an invisible pretender, or do you have a 'business persona'? Are you striving to have powerful presence and are now ready to step out from the mask yourself beyond simply having a purposeful promise?

Wherever you are, transforming from a mere business persona to a more effortless, yet presence within an organisation changes the dynamics of interactions. It's about CFOs being recognised for bringing not only strategic thinking but a palpable, influential energy to the table.

This transformation doesn't just change how you are perceived; it has the power to shift the very fabric of your organisation's culture.

Measuring the Value of Confidence

I'm often asked how to measure the tangible impact of unwavering confidence on key business metrics.

The first step you must understand with clarity is that when a CFO's suggestions are not just heard but acted upon with conviction, it has the potential to enhance revenue, streamline decision-making, and refine the overall direction of the business.

The impact is significant.

Decision-Making: The Confidence Correlation

If we drill down and focus on one element and focus on the impact of decision making. Decisions in a business are often reflective of a leader's confidence level. When Boards, CEOs and stakeholders sense certainty from leadership, it influences their choices.

So the intriguing question arises: to what extent do these decisions hinge on the leader's input and confidence?

The spectrum of unwavering confidence
The power of confident leadership: The Scale of Influence

Imagine a world where every decision within an organisation is prefaced with your, as the CFO, insight.

Think about Joe, the CFO of an Australian Private company. If we were to rate Joe's current state of affairs, where his input is considered intermittently, the measurement of impact of Joe's ability to influence decision making may only score a moderate 5 to 6 out of 10.

However, if Joe's input were sought after and acted upon consistently, it might soar to a 9 or 10.

This shift could signify a 30 to 40% improvement in leveraging the leader's confidence for the organisation's benefit.

Let's put some meat on those bones.

Let's say the most important metric for Joe's organisation is sales revenue and based on the audited financial statements that number last year was $200m. The impact of an improvement in decision-making as a result of Joe's input could feasibly be 30-40% of $200m.

That's a $60m increase.

That's an enormous increase and probably feels a little big. What if, to be conservative, we took half of that?

What if the increase resulting from improved decision-making was $30m?

That's a huge increase as a result a 30% growth in Joe's unwavering confidence and influence.

Imagine if you could directly improve your company's most important financial metric by a 30%? What's that value?

What CEOs don't know about CFO Performance

Mistakes can be costly, especially when they arise from disregarding a CFO's guidance. We see that failing to heed the wisdom of leadership can cost an organisation hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, and a significant amount of time.

This is the cost of inaction, and the cost of overlooked CFO leadership.

How much longer do you think Joe's CEO would be willing to incur $30m of opportunity cost each year?

The journey to enhancing organisational success is interlinked with elevating the certainty, confidence and influence of its leaders. We know this at a conceptual level. What CFOs and CEOs find hard to do is quantify the impact.

Imagine if all CFOs scored 10/10 on the Unwavering Confidence Scale of Influence?

What would be possible if you elevated your contribution to more business decisions?
What would be the key metric to measure your impact?
What cost of inaction do you think your CEO is willing to accept this year?

Love to hear your thoughts...

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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