CFOs can boost leadership skills by building trust

Fearless. Knowledgeable. Decisive. Moving beyond traditional roles, the modern CFO is all of these things and more. As financial overseers, they pave the way for their organization to move into the future with confidence. She or he is heavily invested in the well being of their company, acting as an advisor to the CEO, storyteller to investors, and ally to their employees. And there is another less-explored trait that is fundamental for every successful CFO: Trustworthiness.


The best leaders are the ones who gain the trust of both their team and the general public. In an age where transparency is becoming increasingly important, being trustworthy is necessary if leaders want their organization to thrive. In fact, a recent survey shows that CFOs believe lack of public trust is hurting their businesses – and that it’s up to them to fix it.



A toe in every door

While CEOs are typically seen as the face of an organization, CFOs also have ample opportunity to build a loyal following. With a vast range of knowledge and involvement that spans across the company, they can use their power to inspire others and gain trust.



Seen as more approachable than the CEO, CFOs are in a position to build strong relationships with workers that can lead to an emotionally healthy workplace. They can do that by keeping lines of communication open, reaching out to junior leaders, and helping their organizations understand where the company is headed.



CEO of RHR International, Thomas Saporito has this to say about CFOs: “Not only do you need to be technically extremely sound, but you need to be a great people person. If the person can’t build trust and partnership among the senior management team, it’s probably a no-go.”



Trust + happiness = success

It’s no secret that happy workers are more productive  – a whopping 12 percent more productive, according to a study conducted by the University of Warwick. That’s a pretty significant difference, and one worth striving for. The same study references efforts by Google to improve employee satisfaction, revealing that the company saw productivity rise as much as 37 percent. Individual results may vary, but the overarching message remains the same: mood matters.



So what does happiness and productivity have to do with trust? Quite a bit, as it turns out.Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson of Columbia’s Motivation Science Center says teams that don’t trust their leaders are less productive and don’t give their best effort. They’re also more likely to take other job offers that come along, creating higher turnover rates and an anxiety-ridden workplace environment. Alternatively, workers who trust their leaders are more loyal, productive, and satisfied with their jobs.



Keep up the good work

Being multi-faceted, savvy leaders, many CFOs are already aware of the importance of trustworthiness. They’re actively working to build strong relationships with investors, workers, and other companies. By honing their trust skills, CFOs can to strengthen the relationships that they already have, and develop new ones, all while creating a more meaningful, healthy workplace.


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