I’ve been working with a CFO client recently, and he’s a little frustrated because, although he’s got some massive organisational change to lead, he keeps getting dragged into the detail of business as usual activities. This has been something that has been going on for a little while now. He recognises that his team needs to step up so that he can get out of the detail, out of the number crunching, out of the double checking. He tells me his team is great, they have lots of potential….but it’s just not happening.
This is a senior guy and overall he’s doing a pretty good job, so why does it matter to him? Well, he wants to be working on the strategic stuff. He aspires to be the trusted advisor of the CEO. He wants to make a difference in his organisation and at the moment he feels like he’s being dragged into infinite detail when what he wants to be doing is influencing, and focusing on crafting the future of the organization in conjunction with the rest of the executive team. And he’s certainly capable…if only he had the bandwidth to do it.
I’ve noticed that this is not uncommon for finance leaders. Finance leaders, whether CFO, Financial Controller or Finance Manager, are so good at what they do they are the subject matter experts.
It’s really easy for them to help their people out.
It’s really easy to answer the question when they’re asked ‘How do I do this?’.
It’s really easy to just do some tasks themselves rather than teaching somebody else to do it.
It’s really easy to take on somebody else’s problem when they come for a solution rather than having that person solve their own problem- so they end up with a whole swag of problems to solve and crises to manage, on top of their real job.
Does this sound familiar?
If you’re doing any of this, then in six months’ time what will have changed? Will you still be stuck in the doing, keeping super busy with an endless ‘to do’ list and not enough time?
If you are a finance leader, and you want to be making a difference, if you want to be stepping into the space where finance leaders need to go, to become a trusted business advisor- someone who is offering creative and strategic solutions to the senior leaders in your organization, the CEO, the CMO, the CTO- then you need to get yourself out of the day-to-day, the detail, the ‘busy’.
Which means you need your people to step up into their responsibilities and to become more accountable. They need to fulfil their potential so that you can fulfil your potential. You need to create strategic thinking and influencing opportunities for yourself.
One of the quickest and easiest ways of changing your status quo is adding some coaching skills to your toolkit. Coaching skills will give you some great ways of being able to turn a conversation with your team members and peers around so, that rather than answering questions, that you’re helping people to answer their own questions.
You begin helping to stretch and develop the people around you so that they are equipped to take accountability and real ownership. They can step up and actually lead their own areas of responsibility. They become prepared to figure out a way forward rather than continually relying on your advice. This means you’re going to get some time back so you can think. You’re going to be able to more effectively delegate some of that ‘doing’ work so that you can create opportunity space for yourself.
The modern finance leader is expected to participate in the entire business, not just in crunching numbers. If you want to become a real leader in this space, then you need to consider just how you will develop the talents of your people.
Love to know your thoughts.