Back to Module

CFO Program Online Course

0% Complete
0/0 Steps
  1. Module 1: Embed finance across the company
    5 Lessons
  2. Module 2: Identify profit and cash initiatives
    7 Lessons
  3. Module 3: Oversee and drive business change
    13 Lessons
  4. Module 4: Deliver data-driven strategic insights
    6 Lessons
  5. Module 5: Challenge your Board and influence strategy
    9 Lessons
  6. Module 6: Drive key decision-making
    11 Lessons
  7. Module 7: Represent your business externally
    6 Lessons
  8. Module 8: Become a critical and influential voice
    5 Lessons
  9. Module 9: Deliver the business plan
    7 Lessons
Topic Progress
0% Complete

Finance leaders play a key role in the Board room and are well-placed to make a big impact given your unique financial perspective and strong knowledge of the company’s performance.  Despite this, many finance leaders struggle to become a vital Board member and to be considered one of the most critical voices in the room.

During this video extract from a Strategic Business Partner workshop, experienced CFO and professional mentor Ian Simpkin shares his experiences:

No matter how confident you feel in your ability to add value to your Board, you must fully earn your Board’s respect.

This starts by showing a strong interest in what everybody is doing and building up a strong understanding of your company’s activities.  For example, if you are in a manufacturing business then spend time walking around the workshops and holding discussing with the site foreman.

Some Board members have pre-conceived ideas about finance teams and you might need to work hard to change these.  Try to understand things from other people’s perspective and develop that knowledge of their area so that they will listen to you as the business partner, rather than just their accountant.

You will also need to demonstrate excellent soft skills to become a critical voice in the Board room.  These include the following:

  1. Relationships: You will require strong inter-personal skills and high levels of emotional intelligence to create a strong bond with each Board member.  This is inherently challenging given that they may have very different backgrounds and individual personalities.
  2. Communication: Finance leaders need strong communication skills to operate effectively at Board level, including your presentations, verbal discussions and writing skills.  You need to convey messages in a clear and concise manner, simplify complex matters for less-knowledgeable people and listen actively to what others are saying.
  3. Gravitas: Your levels of confidence and charisma play a huge role in your ability to influence others and attract followers.  Many finance leaders suffer from Imposter Syndrome within the Board room, which can significantly reduce your performance levels.
  4. Trustworthiness: Finance leaders need to gain people’s trust by consistently producing high quality and showing that you are reliable.  You must deliver your promises, manage expectations and avoid any unwanted surprises.
  5. Personal effectiveness: There are many challenges towards operating at Board level and you need to demonstrate your ability to make a big impact.  This requires strong initiative, sound judgement and excellent problem-solving skills.  You may also possess vision, drive and resilience to deliver the full aspects of your role.

In summary, becoming a critical voice at Board level is challenging and can take time.  Finance leaders must devote significant time towards developing strong relationships with each member of the Board and towards improving your ability to exert influence over them when required.  Avoid pushing too hard otherwise you could damage relationships and may be perceived as a blocker.

Assess your skills

Do you have much influence during Board meetings?

Are you capable of properly making yourself heard when appropriate?

How much do people consider your opinions during decision-making?