How CFOs Can Get Momentum… Fast!

09/25/2023 06:56:21 +0000

My 2 girls, Leilani and Mila, are 14 months apart so there is a lot in the first few years of their lives that I don't remember as I was in a perpetual blur of feeding, nappy changing and bedtimes. There is, however, there is one moment that I will never forget and that is the feeling of trying to run again. I remember where I was (the dry dock in Balmain), the temperature (30 degrees and humid), but the thing I remember most vividly was the feeling of having cement balls strapped to my ankles because it was that hard to get one foot in front of the other. It was soul destroying. In my mind I was ready to get fit and 'get my body back' but at that moment it seemed impossible.

I was asked frequently (still to this day, in fact), 'wow, 14 months apart, how did you do it?'. My response was and is always this: 'I wake up and try again'.I realised very quickly that any attempt at perfection, or to try and compare myself to the other young mums in my mother's group was simply a fast road to disappointment, so that literally was how I got through.

I still use that mantra today.

There are moments in time when the best path forward is to keep it simple and focus on the thing immediately in front of you.

Source: Sir Bob Parker, 2018 CPA Australia Congress, Canberra

I was reminded of this in 2018 when I had the privilege of speaking alongside Sir Bob Parker, the mayor of Christchurch during the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. In his keynote, he described his efforts during the immediate aftermath and shared the advice he used to get through those difficult times.

Knowing that he was faced with a significant clean up and rebuild, it would have been easy to be overwhelmed by it all. Put yourselves in his shoes for a moment – standing on broken streets, with destruction and despair around you. So – his first focus was the '10 metre decision'. That is, the one he could do immediately that would have a positive impact. Then, he would go on to make the 100 metre decision and so on. And using that approach, he helped the city rebuild itself.

The shadow of strategic thinking

One of the things that makes CFOs stand out is their ability to connect the dots, see the big picture and think and act strategically. However, coming back to the office with a big year in front of you might be overwhelming, especially when you feel sluggish. It might be hard to know where to start because the options (good ones, mind you!) are endless!

Which is why the best way for CFOs like you to get momentum quickly is to identify your 10 metre decision and get into execution mode.

But how do I know it's the right thing or right decision? you might ask.

This sort of thinking can get you very quickly into paralysis by analysis, which simply kills valuable time. Faced with a genuine life and death scenario, Sir Parker also worried the same thing. But he trusted that the next right thing would emerge once the 10 metre decision was taken and taking a 10 metre decision was better than inaction.

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing and the worst thing you can do is nothing."
                                 - Theodore Roosevelt


What's your next move?

I'd love for you to pull out your plans for the year (and if you don't have that yet, perhaps we should talk about how you can develop your plan quickly!) and ask yourself, 'what is my 10 metre decision? What is the first action I can take that will move me forward?'.

Here are 5 ideas to get you started:

 1. Hold a 30 minute 1:1 meeting with each your direct reports

 2. Hold a 60 minute 1:1 meeting with your CEO

 3. Get your calendar in order and up to date for the rest of January and all of February

 4. Identify with clarity what success looks like for you come 31 March

 5. Identify the lead metrics that you need to focus on to ensure you meet your performance goals for the quarter

If you're wondering which one to do next, just start from the top. The key is to get started and activate your energy and momentum for the quarter and for the year. I know as well as you do that you're able to get the job done. Oftentimes the hardest part is just getting started, especially at a time when many of us feel sluggish. My intention here is to get you moving quickly!

What's your next move?

PS. At the time of distribution, Tonga - which many of you know is where my family is from and in particular my parents and grandparents live - is in the middle of its own crisis with the recent volcano eruption. I thank you for your messages of support and well wishes. The last I have heard my family are safe and we hope that the comms are restored soon and aid arrives swiftly.

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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We acknowledge the Darkinjung people, the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work and pay our respects to the Elders both past, present & emerging.