What makes an effective Chief Financial Officer (CFO) tick? According to MIT Sloan School of Business CFO Summit chair and CFO Leadership Council founder Jack McCullough, a great CFO is a rockstar CFO.
This does not mean that the CFO is adept at playing musical instruments, but rather, they have honed executive-level strategic thinking, know how to provide ethical leadership, possess the ability to build elite teams, can perform across multiple departments, and have developed an interest in continuous learning.
In the past, the demand from a CFO is only to have a solid grasp of numbers to help paint a picture of the company’s financial health in the foreseeable future. Nowadays, CFOs are expected to participate in strategy and operations.
A rockstar CFO thinks strategically.
An effective CFO knows how to strike a balance between short-term needs and long-term strategy. They have a deep understanding of the mission, goals, and objectives of the organizations they need in order to make things happen. They have the CF-GO mindset and a doer attitude. They are a far cry from a CF-NO, who takes a passive approach to their role and lets opportunities fly by.
A rockstar CFO delivers ethical leadership.
Just like any other C-suite executive, a CFO is often faced with issues that test their moral compass. A rockstar CFO is one that paves the way in creating a culture where ethics are paramount. Beyond displaying honesty and transparency, a CFO is a person of integrity. They walk the talk, living and breathing ethical culture even during times when it’s inconvenient. No matter the circumstances, a CFO should be truthful, making it their most significant contribution to the organization.
A rockstar CFO builds rockstar teams.
CFOs must be credible and trustworthy, and successful ones wield these traits as a weapon in the recruitment space. They also know how to motivate, lead, and empower individuals, leading to long-term partnerships with the talent. In the event that the person doesn’t possess a particular skill to do a job, the CFO must be on the hunt for people who are passionate and have the work ethic and intellectual curiosity to learn. This is ultimately the key to creating a world-class organization.
A rockstar CFO has a strong desire for learning.
It should be a no-brainer that a rockstar CFO should be intellectually curious. They have a thirst for knowledge that allows them to stay on the cutting edge. Aside from formal education, elite CFOs are proactive enough to understand trends on their own in order to remain at the forefront of their profession. They also know how to learn from fellow elite executives, regardless of whether they belong to the same industry. They seek mentors, as well as keep up with the ever-changing technology themselves.
How to achieve rockstar status?
Simone Biles did not learn how to balance on a beam in a day. Likewise, LeBron James did not master dunking three’s in a single training session. It takes real commitment and continuous practice to become the best CFO you can be.
You can’t become a rockstar CFO overnight, but you can use Jack McCullough’s Rockstar CFO E-book as a springboard. A recognized thought leader in the world of financial leadership, the book outlines all the secrets of rockstar CFOs and what it takes to get there.