Leadership and the CFO.

Author:Hollein, Marie N.
Position:FROM THE PRESIDENT - Chief financial officer - Interview

Being a "strategic CFO" is an important and recurring theme for members of Financial Executives International (FEI). I've been enjoying--and learning much--moderating and participating on panel discussions regarding that topic at FEI chapters and regional events in recent years.

But what makes a strategic chief financial officer? And what makes a chief financial officer a strategic leader?

We have seen a tipping point in the last three to four years, at which time strategy at many of our member's companies--from the smallest private companies to the Fortune 100--is being led from the CFO position.

What Makes a Leader?

Are there really "born" leaders or is leadership a skill that can be acquired? Is it similar to the old joke: "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" to which someone replies: "Practice, practice, practice."

It is my belief that what makes a leader includes several key attributes, including adaptability and the willingness to listen to others and see beyond the technical challenge of any problem. These are skills that can be practiced and put into action daily.

I encourage chapters to offer events in leadership development, just as FEI headquarters staff plan and offer such programming at the regional and national level, including the annual Leadership Summit Conference.

FEI's Leadership Role

Recently, I participated with leaders from the Center for Audit Quality, The Institute of Internal Auditors and the National Association of Corporate Directors in a program of the Anti-Fraud Collaboration, of which FEI is also a steering committee member.

I also shared the podium with Leslie Seidman, chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board at an FEI Connecticut-Westchester Chapter meeting. And I have also engaged in many conversations with the chairman of the Financial Accounting Foundation, Terri Polley.

Based on feedback I receive, I am pleased to relate that FEI and its...

To continue reading