Based on my experience as a former CEO and director on the boards of numerous companies, these are the expectations that CEOs and boards have of their CFO. CFOs who meet these expectations will earn trust and confidence and be effective in their role.
If you are looking for a sustainable initiative to build competitive advantage, look no further than the culture of continuous improvement. Companies that do not continually improve will fall behind. Those that do continuously improve will win the competitive race in the long run.
When I see staff organization titles like chief knowledge officer, chief visioning officer, chief sustainability officer, chief strategy officer and chief innovation officer, I wonder why these areas aren’t the responsibility of existing positions within the company. I also wonder about the lack of ownership by the line organization of the initiatives developed by staff “chiefs.”
Invasive monitoring of employee productivity is the antithesis of continuous improvement, which empowers employees and helps them develop a sense of ownership in what they do. A workforce that participates in setting their metrics and improving workflow processes will outperform a workforce treated like cogs in a wheel.
Can a CEO who was asked to step down by the board due to their toxic leadership traits ever return to that position and be successful? Can trust and confidence in their leadership be established? Can talented and experienced people be recruited?
Business schools that teach to maximize shareholder value but don’t emphasize the importance of ethics, integrity and the need to be a good corporate citizen are shortchanging their students and the companies they will work for.
When joining a board, I often wonder why the incumbent directors had exercised tunnel vision and ignored an issue. A diverse board will lessen the likelihood of this occurring.
Employee engagement is a source of competitive advantage. Empower your direct reports. Help them develop a sense of ownership in what they do. Set expectations, jointly establish goals and cut them loose to do their thing. Hold them accountable for results.
The last thing you want is for employees to feel as if they are competing with each other. It reduces trust and collaboration among team members. It’s not productive for employees to widely dislike such a cutthroat cultural norm.
Bayer has a keen focus on education and opportunity. This is exemplified by Saxbys’ having undergraduate students exclusively manage and run cafés.
Marquis has created a culture in which her employees feel a sense of ownership in what they do, and they are as dedicated to the success of the business.
And remember, when you hear from employees that something can’t be done, respond with, “Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Find a way to do it.”