Over the past decade, the role of the CFO has dramatically changed from a behind the scenes financial guru to a forward thinking team leader, involved in all aspects of company operations and strategies. And, as today’s business environments and technologies rapidly evolve, all CFOs must continuously keep up with the fast moving times. So, what are some of the most essential traits needed and expected for long term success? Our Boston experts had some great insight for us at our ever popular program, The Habits of Highly Successful CFOs, presented in December by The Boston CFO Leadership Council and The Boston Controllers Leadership Council.


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Here is some of their advice:

  • Be a strategic thinker.
  • Constantly evaluate your team, making sure that you have and can retain all the right players. 
  • Think outside the box and be more than a “been there, done that” CFO.
  • Constantly network.
  • Always maintain open communication with your board of directors, both inside and outside of meetings, and get to know each member individually.
  • Treat every board meeting as though it is a job interview.
  • Be a realist. Consider all that can go wrong and, in anticipation, formulate long term goals and strategies.
  • Stay up to date with industry trends by reading, getting advice from bankers and lawyers, and attending conferences.
  • Be visible and approachable and hold impromptu one-on-one meetings with your team.
  • Consider yourself a member of the management team and communicate regularly with customers.
  • Understand all aspects of your business and spend time familiarizing yourself with each department.
  • Always drive discussions around budgets and plans.
  • Focus on current organizational happenings. The more you understand, the more you will be able to influence.
  • Partner with your sales team and work together on pricing models.
  • From cash flow to pre and post IPO, your role should always evolve with stages of your organization.
  • Have a corporate vision in place and consistently articulate it.
  • Think about alternate paths for your organization and look ahead to where they may lead.
  • Strive for excellence, not perfection, and ask for help when needed.
  • Find mentors to perfect your leadership style.
  • Differentiate between self-confidence and arrogance and consider your interactions. “Do you mind walking me through how you got there?” is much more productive and respected than “What were you thinking?”.
  • Let problems unfold on their own and focus on the underlying issues, not the people or emotions involved.
  • Nurture company culture and a sense of community within your organization.
  • Utilize the talents of the younger generation and understand their outlook on today’s workplace.

As for general advice, keep in mind the needs of today’s employees: work is something that you do, not a place that you go, and a manageable career-life balance is important to everyone.  It is also crucial to circulate among your colleagues on a daily basis and ensure your dedicated level of involvement, as you communicate to them, both formally and informally. Get involved in the interoffice “water cooler” conversations and socialize with your team.  Simply stated, understand and work in favor of your company dynamics.

If you missed this program, we have many more in store for you in the months ahead. Our next event, Law School For The CFO, is scheduled to take place on March 16. This program always sells out quickly, so reserve your space today. And, looking ahead, we are very excited about this year’s annual conference on May 18, The 2016 CFO Talent Show. Further details will follow soon, so stay tuned to our blog for all of the latest information.