The Finance Leader Podcast

065: The C-Suite Dynamic - How Senior Executives Partner Together to Lead the Organization

October 19, 2021 Stephen McLain Season 8 Episode 2
The Finance Leader Podcast
065: The C-Suite Dynamic - How Senior Executives Partner Together to Lead the Organization
Show Notes Transcript

The C Suite is a partnership of senior leaders who must be committed to working with each other to properly guide their organization to success, while also ensuring that group think never takes hold.  Senior executives must challenge each other professionally, execute the strategy, and solve complex problems together. It begins and ends with leaders willing to hold themselves accountable for the organization’s success and failures.  It’s a partnership that can create long-standing value that benefits all critical stakeholders.

The episode follows this outline:

  1. It’s a partnership to deliver the strategy,
  2. Strategic mindset with a focus on value creation,
  3. Vision, influence, and communication are key, and
  4. Successes or failures rests with the C-suite.

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Stephen McLain:

The C suite is a partnership of senior leaders who must be committed to working with each other to properly guide their organization to success, while also ensuring that groupthink never takes hold. Senior Executives must challenge each other professionally, execute the strategy and solve complex problems together. It begins and ends with leaders willing to hold themselves accountable for the organization's successes and failures. It's a partnership that can create long standing value that benefits all critical stakeholders. Please enjoy the episode. Welcome to the finance leader podcast where leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host Stephen McLain. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. This is episode number 65. And I will be talking about the dynamics of the C suite. And I will highlight the following topics. Number one, it's a partnership to deliver the strategy number two strategic mindset with a focus on value creation. Number three, vision, influence and communication are key and for success or failures rests with the C suite. Test Pilot Brigadier General Chuck Yeager said, you don't concentrate on risks you concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done. Last week, season eight debuted with Episode 64, the CFO mindset where I focused on the idea that you need to pivot your skills, your mindset, and your perspective about rising to the executive level, you must view the organization as a whole and have a strategic outlook. This week, I'm talking about the C suite dynamic, especially what it means to be serving in the role as senior executive and what the expectations are. The senior executives should always be talking with their teams, talking with anyone about the strategy, the brand and the vision always to get people excited, and to open communication about where the company is going, and what challenges they're facing. open communication is critical to avoid rumors, and anything that is not clear. Now what are the traits and skills of senior executives. Now I think of persistence, confidence, problem solving, being goal oriented, being strategic and forward thinking, preserving decision space, an excellent communicator can influence positive outcomes. They build trust, they have a strong work ethic, and definitely leadership and this is why I have this platform. Now I go back to Episode Two of the finance leader Podcast, where I highlight four critical responsibilities of finance and accounting leaders number one, influencing positive outcomes. Number two, developing your team members. Number three, achieving results and foreseeing the future. These four responsibilities are key to your growth as a finance and accounting leader, as you rise in role and responsibility. Now, as I had mentioned in last week in Episode 64, if you are working now in a role below executive, you will need to transition your mindset skill set and perspective. To be prepared for that level, you will need to transition from the detail oriented person you probably are today to being more strategic and seeing the organization as a whole. Seeing it from a high level. This requires a shift in how you think and how you see the world. It takes a shift in confidence and the ability to lead during adversity and change. Typical roles in the C suite or senior executives representing key teams, and areas responsibility in the company. And of course, it's led by the chief executive officer who is responsible for everything that organization does or fails to do. And you have a chief people officer chief Operations Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Technology Officer and of course Chief Financial Officer. The C suite is a partnership of executives committed to making the company successful. By creating a vision the team can understand and believe in making decisions around the strategy and solving complex problems together and together is the key. Every day you'll be solving problems. And that means developing options, understanding the market and business environment and making decisions to be successful and contribute at the sea level. This is what you must do. And we'll talk about a couple things here. Number one is your mindset must be growth oriented. You must believe that you can improve and grow your growth is not fixed. You have to ignore the critics for example of where you came from or where you went to school, and those who will use passive aggressive tactics on you, to shatter you or to shake up your dreams or goals. The more you You are successful, the more critics and haters you will get, and it might be the people closest to you. So be ready and have a strong growth oriented mindset. Number two, you must be able to solve problems in a complex environment and adapt as conditions change. Meaning don't get fixated, don't get rigid in your approach, be ready to change and watch your bias. Number three, you must be strong enough to deal with the other executives who appear to challenge your approach. Can you handle adversity? Can you handle high pressure situations? Can you successfully contribute even after you have been challenged by those who might be more talented than you? And again, can you handle passive aggressive tactics? I talk about passive aggressiveness in the course I offer at finance leader Academy. And this is where a group of senior executives can be successful, they must focus on value creation, and not just reporting and conducting everyday business. But how are we increasing the value of the company? And what do I mean by value there are of course traditional views of value, such as the worth of tangible assets, like cash, property and investments that is created through everyday sales. But I'm also talking about what makes up goodwill and accompany goodwill have is of course objective in and includes a good reputation and customer loyalty. But I want to highlight three significant areas for value creation. Number one, what are the values of the company? And does that translate to the values of your customer base, and potential customer base, we are talking about social responsibility, but to a higher level, and you must be genuine about it. Can your company appeal to what is important regarding what is happening on a larger scale, and some examples are equality, climate change, immigration, and overall equal opportunity and fairness. Today, it requires more than just a great product or service. It requires commitment and activism at a different level. And this creates value for the company. But a word of caution, you must be genuine and believe in the cause you choose, you must believe in the core tenants of that cause. Number two, further, you must create brand awareness. And what I mean by brand awareness is that you are going beyond what your product and service offered to the customer. You're talking about what the brand means. And you want to integrate that into what I talked about before and as the values of the company, you want to go beyond the traits and what the service and product offer to the customer combined that traditional brand awareness, what the product and service is, with the values of the company going to a higher level so you can appeal to what people are believing in today. Number three, finally, the most important is the quality of the people working for the company, does the company invest in their people? value creation is going beyond what we would normally view as what the financial statements would tell us, it's believing in a critical cause. Not every cause, pick one or two so you can focus properly, which can lead to an excited and elevated brand awareness. And finally, it's always a bunch of people on board great people invest in them, you will create a lot of value. Never forget that this is about value creation and not just reporting and everyday tasks. Now let's talk about a few key points about the C suite dynamic. Number one, it's a partnership to deliver the strategy to serve on an executive team is to create a trustworthy partnership, where you work together to make the company successful. And how do you do that? accountability, the sharing of ideas, challenge each other the bring out the best be a team of rivals professionally, who can positively affect change into challenge a different way to think and solve problems. Focus on the company as a whole, not just what your department does. A successful senior executive has a broader understanding of the business, along with knowledge about each function know the difference between undermining a process and challenging an idea. Until a decision is made ideas should be challenged. Also don't create an environment where ideas can be shared. Once a decision is made, then it's time for everyone to be on board 100% to see it executed and to see it succeed. But the C suite team must guard against groupthink. We don't want a group of people who all think the same and are yes people I despise. Yes, people challenge each other up until the decision is made. challenge the status quo and no you will also be challenged. Never let groupthink to take hold in your organization. Number two strategic mindset with a focus on value creation, as a CFO reporting is essential, but how are you creating value for the company Created value must positively affect all the stakeholders. And like I said a few minutes ago, value goes beyond the financial statements and includes reputation. But more importantly, it's the values you believe in, which creates an exciting opportunity for mass brand awareness, and is always about bringing on great people, and investing in them investing in their training and development. thinking strategically is a skill. Adopting that into your mindset will require a shift in your thinking and perspective, and once achieved successfully, will change your entire life and viewpoint. Number three, vision influence and communication are key. How do you get people excited about the brand, even if the product or service you offer is not that exciting, but I believe if people are willing to pay money for your product or service, then it is exciting. Yes, some products are necessary, and they will be bought no matter what, but may not be truly exciting. If that is the case, then highlight why people need your product and why it's important. at the highest levels of military service, we keep in mind two very important stakeholders to military operations, the citizens we are protecting and their livelihood, and the ground soldier who has to execute the plans that are being developed. Keep your critical stakeholders in mind and communicate that importance throughout your team. Who are your critical stakeholders? And why are they important? How can you take care of them? How can you build their needs into your plans and the strategy, I want to encourage you to talk with everyone, not to only drive your beliefs, but to listen and get feedback. Your presence can be intimidating. And that is not where you want to be when you speak with team members. Help them to relax so you get feedback and in turn, you can talk about the brand, and how the brand makes a difference in the world and how it will change people's lives for the better no matter the product or service. Number four success or failure rests with the C suite. Everything the company does well or fails that begins and ends with the senior executives. What you focus on is what your team will focus on. senior executives have to accept responsibility for the performance of the company good and bad. And for the performance of their teams. It rests with you. There are stakeholders relying on you to make the right decisions, and to lead with integrity to set high standards and to execute with passion and a strong work ethic. Now for action today operating in the C suite is different from any role you have ever had a few questions to consider. Number one, are you a good teammate who can partner with others to solve complex problems? Number two, how well do you lead when there is no certainty? Number three, how well can you lead where you must determine what is important to focus on? And no one above you is telling you what is the priority? Number four, can you lead in an adverse environment where you have to evaluate the risks involved? I am asking these questions so you can evaluate your mindset and perspective. your mindset must be aligned before you ever achieved the role of CFO, your finance and accounting knowledge is not good enough to get you promoted. And if that was the one reason a company putting you in that role, you would probably fail. address your mindset and how you evaluate priorities, plus the risks involved. Today I talked about the C suite dynamic and highlighted the following points. Number one, it's a partnership to deliver the strategy number two strategic mindset with a focus on value creation. Number three, vision, influence and communication are key. And four success or failures rests with the C suite. The C suite is where it begins and ends. It's a partnership of leaders who challenge each other professionally, and who focus on value creation, instead of only what the financial statements will say this month or next month. value creation is about long term growth around shared values, brand awareness and taking care of your team. Next week we'll be talking about the CFO skill set I can't wait to share. I do have a Facebook group called the finance leader podcast community. This is a place where we can help each other to grow and be prepared for the next step in our careers as finance and accounting professionals so please join. The link is in the show notes with this episode. Also, please follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can find my usernames in the show notes with this episode. I hope you enjoyed the finance leader Podcast. I am dedicated to helping you grow your leadership skills to change your mindset and to clarify your goals so you achieve the role of Chief Financial Officer. You can find this episode wherever you listen to podcasts. Until next time, you can check out more resources at financing your and sign up for my weekly updates so you don't miss an episode. And now go lead your team and I'll see you next time. Thank you