Believe it or not, The CFO Leadership Council is over 11 years old. And since our early days, we’ve had thousands of conversations with hundreds of CFOs on how their role has evolved from ‘best accountant’ to ‘strategic partner’.

A few years ago, our founder, Jack McCullough, started an informal research project to determine those key skills and attributes that separate truly elite CFOs from the rest of the pack. Based on these conversations, we’ve identified 10 key habits that high achieving leaders share.

Now, a few caveats:

  1. We are not academics. Trust us, it’s better for everyone that way.
  2. This is totally anecdotal. Statisticians are shaking their heads at us.

However, all the feedback we’ve received from dozens of CFOs, ranging from the start-up to Fortune 50 space, aligns along one theme: to be a high achieving leader, you must master not only the function, but the influence and strategic mindset that is expected from truly great CFOs.

So here they are, the 10 habits of truly effective CFOs:

Habits Checklist.png

  1. Think Strategically: Elite CFOs take an active, not reactive, approach to their role. Your financial expertise and strategic thinking is invaluable.

  2. Communicate Proactively: A great communicator should sell influence, build consensus, navigate politics, and manage personal agendas.

  3. Master Deal Making: Be a CF-GO, not a CF-NO. Yet, remember that sometimes the best deal is the one you avoid.

  4. Build Elite Teams: Build your team for where you want to go, not where you are today.

  5. Learn Continuously: It is impossible to remain on the cutting-edge of your profession or industry within a cocoon. Challenge yourself to continuously improve your toolbox.

  6. Serve as a Trusted Advisor: The CFO is the most trusted person within an organization. The board is dependent upon the competence and integrity of its CFO.

  7. Perform Cross-Functionally: A great CFO is an organization’s secret weapon: Best seller, best recruiter, best deal closer, and best fundraiser.

  8. Maintain Financial Expertise: Never Forget: F is for Financial.

  9. Provide Ethical Leadership: As CFO, you are the most ethical person in the company and set the example for the entire organization. It’s imperative that you demonstrate unquestioned ethical standards.

  10. Maintain a Work/Life Balance: It is challenging in the short-term but imperative in the long-term that executives find room for non-work activities 

Ready to Get Started On Your Leadership Journey?

On January 19th, we hosted a live webinar with our members to discuss the 10 Habits of Effective CFOs. To listen to an archive of the discussion, as well as download a PDF of the presentation, just click the button below.

Listen To The Call hbspt.cta.load(238386, ‘fd279ab8-13ca-42a0-8e23-3348fefe7636’, {});

Bonus! You’ll also find other recorded conversations and other presentations from our past members-only calls.

Want to Start a Conversation? 

We’d love to hear from you. Either post a comment below or shoot Jack an email here to continue the discussion on the habits of highly effective CFOs.

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