The First Step CFOs Need to Make in the Face of Opportunity

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

Last week I had a massage at a place I'd never been to before. It was interesting. About 20 minutes into it she asked me to turn to my side in a recovery-like position and then proceeded to manipulate my arms and legs to find the tension points in my body.

It hurt and I have to admit I wasn't loving it. At first, I thought 'wait a second, this isn't a massage. I want a massage!!' and then I realised she diagnosing the tension points so she could focus on the right areas to massage to give me the relaxed outcome I was looking for.

Unusual, but clever.

One of the things I have heard most frequently from CFOs coming into the new year is 'there are some amazing opportunities for us'. Whether it's because it's a new job, there's been a structural change in the business, a strategic change or simply a response to the latest macro issue, the opportunities are endless.

It's like being in a maze - how do you choose which way to turn?

The inconvenience of opportunity

Yes, opportunities are wonderful, but their presence makes us do something we're less good at.

Choosing. Saying no.

In the CFO circles I'm in, this typically means saying no to your CEO, key stakeholders or your team. I'm guessing you've been in those conversations and the thought of them as you read this make your stomach churn. It's never nice to say no to someone or to let them know they are not your priority.

How CFOs choose

Most CFOs do this poorly – not because they're incompetent, but because they're the ultimate in service professional. They are there to help, and get genuine fulfilment from their ability to help. The choices are also typically high stakes, so they aren't easy choices to make.

Saying no doesn't feel congruent to they don't and several things suffer:
  • Quality
  • Stakeholder relations
  • Mental health (i.e. stress)
  • Personal relationships
  • Physical health

How CFOs can make confident choices

Just like my masseuse did that day, CFOs need to find a way to diagnose the sequence of priorities. It won't feel right – you'll feel like you're not doing what you should be doing and you'll worry you're not going to get what you wanted. In that moment it will feel wrong.

But it's what happens after that matters.

Once you have done the diagnosis and identify the most important step to take, this is what happens:

  • You feel clear, confident and calm
  • All the other opportunities fall away in that moment.
  • Your mental load eases and as a result, your level of distraction decreases significantly, and you don't bring it home anymore.
  • Your focus increases accordingly.
  • Your activity level accelerates. You reach your outcome faster.
  • The probability of achieving the desired outcome increases exponentially.
 • You sleep better, eat better and exercise more (if that's your thing)

Sound good? Here's how we do it

To help my CFOs achieve this, we use the CFO of the Future Index™, the CFO Diamond™ and other tools and templates along the way. We create detailed plans of our areas of focus for the quarter and we have a special framework to ensure that nothing else slips through the gaps and everything that needs to gets done. We get together around the Boardroom and over dinner to talk about what we're experiencing, what are challenges are and what we're hearing and learning.

Together we make sure it's almost impossible for us to achieve our targets.

And of course we have fun doing it!

Faced with opportunity? This is what you need to do:
  • Take the CFO of the Future Index here (it's free – just make sure you submit your results so you get the full report)
  • Create a stretch plan for the next 6 weeks and quarter ahead.
  • Reconcile your plan with your business' strategic objectives.
  • Create accountability mechanisms to increase your likelihood of achievement.
  • Surround yourself with the right people to help. When they lift, you lift.

What opportunities do you have ahead of you this year?
Are you confident to say no when you need to?
Do you have a community around you to help you make the right choices?

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]
Grab your copy of Alena's CFO of the Future!

This is the trusted guide for CFOs to lead with IMPACT and create VALUE.

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It's time for women in finance to find power in their purpose!

 ⓒ 2023




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