How to Improve Your Communication and Become a Marketable CFO
by Caroline Stockman


Today more than ever, successful interaction with one's Board is critical. For instance, requirements such as Sarbanes Oxley demand the interaction of the CFO with the Board. If the CFO cannot clearly communicate the issues and requirements, a company can experience serious repercussions.

Above and beyond the increased rules and requirements of businesses and, especially, finance functions, the trend is towards better business partnering. Better business partnering from finance professionals is seen as the future, but how can this be achieved without adequate communication?

A 'silo' mentality is no longer acceptable in business. Senior finance professionals are expected to have great versatility and flexibility, yet still maintain rigorous professional and technical standards.

As I develop the concept of the 'Marketable CFO', I find that financial leaders need not only to communicate rules and guidelines effectively but they also need to communicate about themselves. This is the only way they will demonstrate their competence and develop trust with the board.

How to Develop Your Own Personal Communication Strategy So You Can Perform at Your Best to Achieve the Results You Desire

Go With Your Strengths

Before you develop your communication strategy you must first understand your own natural style and strengths, as well as your weaker points. It's proven that using one's strengths to the fullest is far more likely to bring results than battling against one's weaknesses. So, tailor your communication strategy to your individual personality. You can benefit greatly by asking friends, family and trusted peers to give you feedback.

Remain Authentic and Flexible

The key is to understand that not everyone thinks the same way, nor interprets the same way, so you need to be able to 'flex different muscles', in different situations. However, to try to be something you are not will not only make you unhappy, but will be noticed by others. While trying different communication techniques, always remain authentic to oneself.

Plan Ahead of Time

It can be easier dealing with one-to-ones rather than groups, as one can tailor one's communication strategy more effectively. In this case, preparation and an understanding of who you are dealing with can be very important. Taking time to plan an important meeting can be invaluable -- not only in terms of content, but approach as well.

Follow My Seven Steps to Becoming a CFO That Communicates Effectively

It is important to develop a plan or strategy, and treat this like a project. This will ensure you take it seriously, identify opportunities to 'practice', and allow monitoring and follow-up, to be sure to reach your goal.

Next steps include:

  1. Set yourself a plan.

  2. Identify key meetings/occasions of potential influence.

  3. Research different styles, as well as your own.

  4. Get trusted feedback arranged.

  5. Try out different approaches, whilst still being yourself.

  6. Take time to think about your audience, and how they like to receive information.

  7. Work on your presentation skills.

If you take the time to think about how to communicate effectively, you may be surprised at how marketable you become!


The Author

  Finance and Commercial Director for the Southbank Centre, Caroline Stockman is an international keynote speaker and financial leader with a impressive track record for delivering outstanding results for companies like Unilever & Novartis Pharmaceuticals AG. To learn how to become a Marketable CFO, contact Caroline at and have her speak at your next leadership conference.
Many more articles in The CFO Refresher in The CEO Refresher Archives

Copyright 2008 by
Caroline Stockman. All rights reserved.

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