Do cfos make good ceos

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At the end of the day, leadership is all about how you make others feel, no matter what the topic, situation, or challenge—even if someone is being fired.

Fortunately, many best-in-class CFOs are learning-agile, which is a real asset for taking on new challenges and expanding skills.

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For example, as a CEO I have delivered speeches in front of 5, people without PowerPoint slides; participated in a high-profile business forum in front of a live audience no notes, no slides bookended by Howard Schultz of Starbucks and Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry and now senior vice president of retail and online stores for Apple; gone toe-to-toe with a news anchor on live television; and sat in a tiny studio with nothing but a bright light and a robotic camera for company while waiting to be interviewed by remote feed. Motivating and inspiring people, displaying optimism in the face of challenges, and being highly attuned to others took on great importance. CEOs, on the other hand, are less apt to tell people what to do and instead guide them to what they should think about. In most industries, however, CFOs who want to become CEOs must intentionally take on new challenges and make the necessary career moves to gain more diverse experience and develop deeper social leadership skills. For example, one company put its CFO in charge of a global operating committee even though none of the members reported to him. In certain businesses, such as a commodity-led organisation, for example, where cost is an important factor, a CEO should be someone with solid understanding of financial and risk management, Goenka said. Two other right-brain attributes that CEOs possess in abundance compared to CFOs are courage, which allows them to step up to address difficult issues and say what needs to be said, and optimism. The typical career path for CFOs who aspire to become CEOs frequently takes them into operating roles, often as chief operating executives or presidents of large divisions, even if their compensation exceeds the typical salary for that position. Suddenly, people were reading my mood as if it were tea leaves. A notable example of a CFO whose career path has led to expanding operational responsibilities is Thomas Staggs of Disney.

For those CFOs who truly believe they are capable of assuming a broader leadership role, the process begins with the self-awareness needed to move beyond what is comfortable and develop the requisite broader array of leadership strengths. The CFO became so adept at using influence and other social leadership skills while gaining in-depth understanding of enterprise-wide operating issues that he became a leading candidate for CEO succession.

Instead of defaulting to solutions and problem-solving tactics that worked in the past, learning-agile leaders apply fresh and varied approaches, ideas, solutions, and techniques to address new problems and unforeseen challenges. Another notable strength of successful CEOs is learning agility, a key predictor of success, which Korn Ferry defines as the willingness and ability to apply lessons learned from past experiences to new and first-time situations and challenges.

A passion for the arts can spark more creative, innovative thinking. The basic CFO functional jobs such as accounting, taxation, corporate finance and treasury are today more of a maintenance job.

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For example, a CFO who acts as the understudy for the CEO for certain events may seek more of a co-presenter role, moving beyond the PowerPoints of the financials to delivering a message that will engage and inspire others. The reasons for the dearth of financial executives moving into the CEO role are both eye-opening and instructive for CFOs with their sights set on becoming the final decision makers. To expand their leadership, CFOs must become more agile and comfortable making decisions when there are not black and white answers. People viewed me as a person, not as a function. Some businesses like engineering, procurement and construction EPC , where there is huge element of risk and financial management, you need someone who understands risk, financing and working capital, he added. Highly learning-agile CEOs also tend to have other desirable qualities: dealing well with and actually enjoying ambiguity and complexity; being reflective and insightful; embracing new things and different approaches; and willingly assuming accountability and ultimate responsibility, particularly when things fail. The basic CFO functional jobs such as accounting, taxation, corporate finance and treasury are today more of a maintenance job. Although CFOs are responsible for the development of their teams, they typically have not had as much experience influencing and guiding people who do not report directly to them.

A CEO, however, will be fired, which raises the stakes for social leadership skills deployed inside and outside the organization. A notable example of a CFO whose career path has led to expanding operational responsibilities is Thomas Staggs of Disney.

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CFOs almost never get promoted directly to CEO