Why CFOs Need to Play Bigger

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

One of the constant tensions I feel at home as a parent is about the level of ipad time my 2 girls have. At 8 and 9 I understand that they aren't supposed to spend hours on end on a screen and that the should rest their hours every 20 minutes. I also realise that - like us in the workplace - Leilani and Mila are blessed to have the opportunity to use technology to bridge the gap that geographic disparity brings. Never has that been more important than over the past 15 months.

But I admit, it's a constant struggle. I'm not proud to admit it, but I regularly impose ipad bans and I freak when I see any use of #*! for fear that it's someone preying on my kids. My concern has spread to the TV when I realised one of the Youtubers that my youngest followed suddenly had adult content on one of her videos. Add that to the fact that having watched "The Social Dilemma", I can't help but think - if the creators of these beasts don't let their kids use it, then what I am I thinking??

You might be wondering if I'm crazy and paranoid. Possibly, but the one thing I know is that I'm resisting change.

I recently spoke at a series of conferences for the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand and as a member of "the Institute" (now I'm showing my age) they asked if they could film a member profile video. During the interview section of the video the producers asked me the following question:

"Why is it important to look towards growing your skillset for the future?"

It's a really good question. As someone who loves change and development, the answer seems obvious to me but as you can see from my parenting dilemma above, I still have the ability to resist change. I think a big part of that resistance is that I'm busy - I don't have the time to invest in that area of change because I'm managing all the changes in other areas of my full life! Sound familiar?

I think there are 3 core reasons that CFOs must always have the future front of mind. CFOs must be and always be:

Reliable: in order to be the CEO's left hand to their right, their trusted partner and confidante, CFOs must be reliable and continue to provide reliable guidance now and in the future. You know just how quickly this regulatory environment moves - there is a reason membership bodies have a CPD requirement. The rules are always changing but the core requirement to be accurate, have integrity and provide sound advice will always be present.

Relevant: The rapid change in the world and economy means that if we're not growing, we're going backwards. If you are a CFO and you're not thinking about automation, and you're not planning your team with a business partnering model in mind, then you aren't setting yourself up for success. Boards, CEOs and your executive peers expect more than BAU from their CFOs. They are looking for CFOs to drive innovation, cultural change and performance.

Role models: Just like being a parent, everything we do is visible to others. Think about your finance leadership team - we're currently working with leaders who during their formative corporate careers were more often than not at the peril of 'command and control' type leaders. They have been part of the journey of leadership - and are now learning and defining what leadership means to them now. They are learning from you. We can't sit back and ask our people to develop and grow if we don't do it ourselves.

The imperative for change

Being reliable keeps us qualified, relevant keeps us in a job and being a role model makes us feel good. But why should I care, you might be asking?

It's what happens at the intersection of those 3 things:

When you are a reliable role model, you stay out of the regulators' way.
When you are reliable and relevant, you add value.
And when you role model relevance, you create leverage. Everyone lifts. Value scales.

Being compliant and commercial is a hard tightrope to walk for you and your team. Thinking about reliability and relevance and role modelling those behaviours may have greater cut-through for you and might just be the impetus for change you're looking for.

Now... time for me to learn about Roblox...

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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