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What are Top CFO Leadership Qualities & Skills?


Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

Aside from the technical finance acumen a CFO would naturally bring and the understanding that comes from being involved in operations, soft skills are in high demand ... leadership, communication, team-building.

(Consultant) |

In dealing with a CEO or senior operating person the ability to recognize the difference between unbridled, unfounded optimism and passion. The wisdom to know that sometimes the 'numbers' don't tell the full story. The courage to stand up to these same people when it is necessary.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

Two things: 1) Knowing what is really important to add value to the business and 2) surrounding him/herself with the right team. The accounting part of the job needs to be solid to protect the business from risk and meeting regulatory needs. But it is always backward looking. The CFO needs to use that as a foundation to provide the business with the tools to take action moving forward.

David Belgum
Title: CFO
Company: LeoNovus, Inc.
(CFO, LeoNovus, Inc.) |

In addition to what's been mentioned, integrity should be high on the list of qualities. The CFO's actions are closely watched both as role model and partner. A lapse in integrity can undo a lot of good work.

(CFO) |

Here is a lesson I'm learning now (which is why this is anonymous): don't take things personally. At times, a CFO has to deliver difficult news and the reaction may not be very good. It's important not to take folks' frustration/anger as specifically directed to you as the messenger, but rather at the situation. I find it difficult sometimes, to be honest, because as a CFO I believe I need to be aware of things in advance to keep people informed, bla bla bla. But that's not always possible. So being able to step back, remain focused, and not get wrapped around the axle, I believe, is a great contributor to success. Good luck!

Topic Expert
Mark Richards
Title: VP Operations and Finance
Company: VP / CFO - Private Company
(VP Operations and Finance, VP / CFO - Private Company) |

Proformative Resource: This is a summary of my discussions with different CEOs on what they look for when hiring a CFO.

Ultimately, the requirements of the CFO is driven by the needs of the company, view of CEO/Board as to Finance's role, and existing finance team.

My personal view is that CFOs should be able to keep up with a CEO on understanding the business model, why clients buy, growth strategies, etc.

I think this level of understanding facilitates success. The more you understand the business, the better you can provide relevant financial counsel, organize the team, build processes that work within the business, identify the raw accounting data needed to build business insight and foresee where the business model or practices may run afar from accounting/controls standards.

I reemphasize the view of the CEO. Her/His viewpoint will really drive the role - their willingness to share decision making, level of comfort with finance, appreciation of CFO role, etc. - all influence the scope of the role.

Hope this helps,


(Manager) |

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."
– Dwight Eisenhower

Topic Expert
Dana Price
Title: Vice President, M&A
Company: McGraw Hill Education
(Vice President, M&A, McGraw Hill Education) |

A sense of humor.

(Manager) |

In addition to Dana & Cindy's excellent points on soft skills, I prefer leadership by example where ever possible, along with the ability to laugh at the small stuff... not take things too seriously that don't really deserve it.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

The ability to "Bridge" relationships to help people and executives actually accomplish their goals. Eliminating Silos is critical.

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

I just blogged about this and included a link to CT Partners newsletter on CFO Trends.


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