How CFOs Can Be Strategic Leaders
Everyday operational responsibilities often restrict how strategic they can be
Chief financial officers (CFOs) don’t get to just be CFOs anymore. Increasingly, they’re being called up on to take on the leadership roles that have long tended to stay in the CEO’s office.
“If you Google it, it’s everywhere now: The CFO needs to be the strategic partner to the CEO and the organization,” said David Diedrich, founder of Berkshire CFO Partners, a nonprofit financial consulting firm. “The CFO really needs to be asking the right questions to elicit a very candid discussion about what’s possible. That’s a very different framework from the CFO as the risk-averse, compliance-focused, ‘let’s get the audit clean and the budget complete’ mindset.”
A 2016 Ernst & Young study revealed the scope of the challenge for CFOs, who are being asked to help organizations act more strategically but who still have to get the numbers properly sorted. A solid majority of CFOs—68 percent—said they anticipated being asked to take on more strategic duties, even while most CFOs (56 percent) say they have a hard time doing so because of everyday operational responsibilities.
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