If you're a CFO still obsessing about time and time management, please take a moment to sit back and read the sentence again.
Space is the key currency for the C-suite.
When you are thinking about how to achieve more with less, how to attain uncapped productivity with ease, managing your time is low hanging fruit. At this level, it's hygiene only.
Where CFOs change the game for themselves and their businesses, is when they focus on creating space. Space to do the big thinking, space to make big decisions and space to have courageous conversations.
Teams: your greatest lever to create space
There are many ways to create space, but one of the key levers within a CFO's control is their team.
At this time of year, it's a sports bonanza in our household. The summer of cricket is in full swing, the tennis is about to start and on top of that we're at the pointy end of the USA College football and the National Football league seasons. We've been talking a lot about sports and sports teams!
The inspiration for the term, Playmaker - which sits at the top of the 'CFO journey' – was, in fact, inspired by American football. Initially a cynic, after working in the USA for 4 years I now appreciate the 'start-stop' nature of the game. It's highly tactical. Each play on the field is carefully chosen and often requires a different team to come in and execute the play. It can feel like the game is 'stopping and starting' every few minutes (which is painfully frustrating when watching on TV but makes more sense live) but what's happening is they're making sure they have exactly the right team on the field to execute the particular play to drive the ball up the field. It's a key winning tactic.
When you then watch the team execute the play well it looks good. People are where they need to be, they outrun their opponents and they've got so much space to keep executing plays. Before you know it, someone's running down the field to score a touchdown!
Contrast this to when a play isn't executed well, and the team is bunched up together, seemingly gaining no ground and achieving very little. As a spectator, it's incredibly frustrating.
Choosing the right team is key...
Which got me thinking about the composition of a CFO's finance leadership team (FLT). And how critical it is for the CFO to have absolute confidence that they have their A-team playing their A-game. But like a football team where you don't have a team filled entirely with quarterbacks, to be exceptional a CFO's FLT needs to have great diversity with specialised skills in it. Which begs the question – how do you get a cohesive and united unit of diverse leaders working together in a way that creates space so that achieving goals is effortless?
...but are they playing your game?
That is, how confident are you that you have your A-team playing their A-game – individually and as a team? Are they exceptional in their specific areas and have a consistent and baseline level of self-leadership, accountability and commitment at an individual level? Because you need all elements of this question to be answered in order for you to attain that level of ease and effortless that you need to create the space you want.
We know that to create maximum velocity in achieving your outcomes this year, CFOs must continually optimise their most innovative, efficient and valuable assets. I'm not sure if you've seen it, but we've also just started watching the F1 series,
Formula 1: Drive to Survive. Talk about having to optimise their assets – it makes the utmost difference to their performance! It involves blood, sweat and if you've watched the series yourself, it also involves a lot of curse words!
Optimising your team: the most effective way to create space
So while your team is the biggest and most effective lever you can use to create the space you need to deliver your 2023 ambitions, an A-grade FLT isn't easy to develop. But the return is exponential if that's the result you want.
So as we start the year, I invite you to think about how you're going to ensure that your finance team, and particular the members of your finance leadership team, are all optimised. That they're in the right position and operating 'at level' and that said 'level' is set at an exceptionally high standard. We know that the simple passing of time will deliver your future circumstance whether you take intentional action or not.
Avoid the wrath of 'drift' and play your game
But therein also lies the secret – if you take deliberate action towards your desired future state for yourself and your team, you will avoid the wrath of 'drift'. That you lose control over yourself, your team and your results. You'll be able to play your game and elevate you, your team and your organisation.
What space do you need your team to create for you?
How confident are you that you have your A-team playing their A-game?
Do you need to raise the standards of the game you're playing to achieve the results you want?
Love to hear your thoughts...