The Legacy Creator CFO

I am a big cricket fan. Growing up I played in the first girls cricket team at my school, I watched my brother play, my dad umpire and of course, I watched the Australian cricket team. I was in San Francisco when my 10-year wait was up for my Sydney Cricket Ground membership and my now husband was gobsmacked at the thought I'd waited that long for a game that could last 5 days and still not yield a win/lose result. Like many of Australians, I'm a bit obsessed.

That also meant I watched a lot of Shane Warne and his mastery of the leg spin on the field. I watched in amusement as he continued his career off the field and created all sorts of colourful headlines. And I watched (and wept) during his memorial last week.

What struck me was that throughout the memorial, the stories and fond memories shared by those closest to him in the cricket community were those "off the field" moments. One of his friends said "As good as he was on the field, he was 5 times better off it." This sentiment was echoed by the comments of his peers, but also through the diversity of people that showed up and spoke at his memorial.

Shane Warne put 'his job' of cricket into perspective

CFOs need to look on the inside (and worry less about what's going on outside)

CFOs naturally want to have executive presence and gravitas. They want to have a seat at the table, be heard, respected and valued by their CEO and peers at the table, and they want to have a positive impact and drive value for their businesses.

As typical high performers, CFOs also have a deep desire to achieve. It's why we don't celebrate our wins, why we're always looking to the next thing and why the biggest expectations we need to manage are our own.

That's great – and it's all external 'stuff'.

Internally, CFOs are highly social creatures. They want to be respected, heard and valued. Which is why they focus so much on how they show up externally and what they achieve....externally.

What the best CFOs know, however, is that your ability to deliver results and operate with gravitas elevates to a whole new level when you know what matters on the inside.

To what end is all your hard work and effort?

Why congruence matters for CFOs

When it comes to personal performance, knowing what matters is just one part of the equation. If you know what matters – what you truly want to be doing, believing and achieving – and you're not in a position to do, have and be that, then that's a recipe for frustration, resentment and disappointment. That's where congruence comes in.

CFOs seek congruence all the time. They're sense makers. Their job is to take financial and non-financial data sets and make meaning out of them so good business decisions can be made.

Knowing what matters to us is just one data set. What we do on a day-to-day basis is another. Where the magic happens is when we understand if and how they are congruent.

One of the traps we can fall into is believing that the job is what matters.

It's not.

The job is simply one vehicle through which you can work towards what matters for you.

A question I often ask my clients is as follows: "What is the contribution you want to make to the world through your work?"

I have noticed that those CFOs who have a genuine and meaningful answer to that question are those that achieve their goals faster and with more impact. They have more conviction behind what they do, and this shows up in presence and gravitas. They can do this because they understand the big picture – what it's all for and what really matters. They also know how their current job/role/point in their career fits into that.

They can see the congruence.

Do you have congruence?

The Legacy Creator CFO

I've recently shared some of the 'secret levels' (not so secret now!) that transcend CFO as Playmaker. After the Integrator and Inspirer, comes the Legacy Creator. CFOs know they're at Legacy Creator because they have freedom of choice. Completely detached from the expectations around them, they really are charting their own course. Creating their own destiny. And they have realised that the impact they want to have on the world is bigger than them. Which is why their focus is succession.

This might be succession planning for their role. It might be family legacy succession planning. Or it might be succession planning for a cause or focus. Also - by this stage, Legacy Creators may no longer have the title "CFO"! (What happens from Playmaker is the possibility to extend into COO, CEO, business owner, consultant, and beyond.) At Legacy Creator, they are thinking bigger and beyond themselves.

What became apparent in Shane Warne's memorial, is that succession for him was through his children and the various philanthropic causes he was involved with, including the United Nations.

Sure, he was the best leg spinner in the world, and has some world-class stats behind him. He was exceptional at his job and he wasn't everyone's cup of tea. But his impact beyond his job was evident in how he impacted on others' lives across the world. His detachment is evident in this now famous quote, "I love loud music, smoked, drank and bowled a bit of leg spin..."

How do you want to be remembered?
What is the legacy you want to create?
Who do you need to be to create that legacy?

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.