What are the most important Chief Financial Officer (CFO) personality traits? And what type of person makes a good CFO?
Below, we reveal the top 10 qualities of a good CFO to go down as one of the strongest finance leaders in history.
10 of the most important CFO personality traits
1. Excellent communicator
If you want to stand out as a CFO, you must be able to communicate complex data effectively.
After all, you're the financial brain of the company. Stakeholders rely on you to paint a clear picture of the company's financial health.
Even the most complicated data is easy to explain to non-finance people by a CFO with great communication skills.
The answer is simple – they tailor their message to their audience. Whether that's swapping 'finance lingo' for simpler terms or showcasing data with visuals instead of spreadsheets, successful CFOs are expert communicators.
2. Strong leadership skills
Leadership is one of the most important CFO traits. As key members of the C-Suite, CFOs have a lot of eyes on them. Therefore, setting a good example and fostering a positive work culture is essential.
There's no arguing that the most effective CFOs have strong leadership skills. They anticipate future trends and challenges within their industry and back those insights with data to help make strategic business decisions. This level of vision and foresight is a key indicator of a great leader.
3. A problem-solver
A successful CFO identifies and solves problems in a timely and effective manner. They have a natural ability to see beyond the surface and dig deep to understand the root cause of the problem.
The company’s financial performance drives every decision a CFO makes. This is especially important when deciphering financial data and coming up with strategic solutions to not only fix the immediate issue but also improve the company’s long-term financial performance.
Strong attention to detail is a must-have CFO personality trait because so much time is spent analyzing complex data.
Paying close attention to details ensures the accuracy of financial reports. It also improves the chances of spotting and fixing errors or discrepancies.
A detail-oriented CFO digs deep and leaves no stone unturned in their quest for accuracy. They’re prepared to go above and beyond to ensure that everything is correct because they know all too well that even the smallest error can have serious repercussions.
5. High emotional intelligence
If there was one CFO personality trait imperative for maintaining effective relationships and making sound decisions under pressure, it’s this one.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage your emotions. It also involves understanding and responding to the feelings of others.
If you can navigate and manage complex relationships, communicate effectively, and handle high-pressure situations with grace and poise, you’re well on your way to solidifying your place in the CFO hall of fame.
6. A true visionary
What does it mean to be a visionary?
For CFOs, it means having a clear vision for the future and the ability to inspire and guide the finance team to achieve it. It’s one of the top qualities of a CFO because a visionary CFO sees beyond the numbers.
With a deep understanding of the industry and the market, CFOs get a clear sense of where the company is, and where it should be heading. Then, they create a plan to help the company reach that destination.
7. Strategic thinker
Successful CFOs are strategic thinkers. This means looking at the big picture, understanding the company's goals, and developing a plan to achieve them.
A strategic mindset allows CFOs to be more proactive in identifying potential issues and creating solutions. To do this, they must know how all areas of the business interconnect and be fully aware of the financial implications of their decisions.
8. Demonstrates honesty and integrity
Honesty and integrity help establish trust with team members and stakeholders. So, if you want to build a legacy as a great CFO, you must practice both in your role.
Both traits are important because people tend to trust a CFO's judgment. And, they’ll trust a CFO who is open and honest in their communication and conduct that much more.
Without the trust of your team, you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone to follow your lead.
But what about integrity? Why is that one of the most important CFO qualities?
Having integrity implies operating morally and ethically. A CFO with integrity makes difficult decisions with confidence, knowing that they are the right decisions, even if they may be unpopular.
9. Strong people skills
Being a CFO is not just about crunching numbers. Strong people skills help a CFO understand and address the needs and concerns of their teams.
A good CFO with strong people skills is viewed as a leader who can guide the company toward success while also taking care of the employees.
So, having strong people skills is not just a nice to have, it's a must-have for any successful CFO.
10. Highly adaptable and flexible
CFOs need to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to whatever the business world throws their way.
Being adaptable and flexible makes navigating change that much easier. Not only that, but they're also required skills to have when it comes to making important financial decisions in a timely and effective manner. This is crucial for responding to changes in regulations or shifts in consumer demand.
Having these qualities also helps CFOs capitalize on new opportunities, making them an asset to the company.
The role of a CFO is critical to the success of any organization. By embodying these CFO personality traits, you can guide your company and team toward financial success and stability.