5 DIY Coaching Strategies Every CFO can Benefit From

Karen Stein, Executive Coach & Author of Be your own leadership coach: Self-coaching strategies to lead your way

A CFO’s role has evolved over time to incorporate a broad range of responsibilities.  Not only are they stewards protecting the assets and cash flow, through budgeting, risk minimisation and forecasting, but they also act as operators of the finance function, ensuring it is efficient and effective.

Deloitte defines the four faces of a CFO to include four diverse and challenging roles which CFO’s are expected to play. In addition to the above, they suggest that CFOs also need to be “strategists who shape the overall strategy and direction, as well as catalysts instilling a financial approach and mindset throughout the organisation to help other parts of the business perform better.”

The breadth of a CFO’s responsibilities expands their cognitive reach; requiring them to balance multiple interests, functions, people, deadlines, and resources.  Their need to be agile and proactive in responding to the complexities which their business operates within, creates high expectations of performance and deliverables.

A CFO can benefit by partnering with an executive coach to support them with exploring and discovering solutions to some of the challenges which they face. This may be associated with their leadership; decision making; stakeholder, time and energy management; goal orientation, or motivation. In an ideal world, a CFO would have a coach available to them on tap to support them with their every challenge.  Yet in reality, a CFO won’t have such an arrangement.

The answer to this lies with the CFO. In building their self-coaching muscles, they will be well placed to support themselves, in the absence of a coach, and will lead as their best self, with a positive long lasting leadership impact.

The benefits of self-coaching are plentiful.  You will gain a deeper understanding of yourself, noticing how you can be more effective and impactful.  You won’t have to wait for hindsight to guide you but will build foresight to empower you to make more informed decisions.  You’ll become more confident and empowered in all you do as you learn which of your behaviours, emotions and cognitions will support you and can be drawn upon when faced with challenges.  As a result, you will become more responsive, agile and able to respond to the many challenges which arise with the four faces of a CFO.

So how might you do this?

Start with self

Self-coaching is most beneficial when you, as a CFO, make space to self-reflect and notice what you are doing in support of yourself, and what you could be doing differently.  Plan time to pause each week and activate your self-coaching muscle.  Lock this time in your diary and invest in yourself.  Self-coaching can be easily overlooked until you build this habit, so make time to reflect, self-assess, and take action in support of yourself.

Ask yourself questions to notice your thinking, assumptions, and biases.  How are these supporting you, or are you creating self-limiting thinking which is holding you back from being of your best? Which of your strengths which have supported you in the past, could you utilise to refute this self-limiting thinking? These are the things which energise, motivate, inspire and engage you, boosting your performance, discretionary effort and focus.  Which of your values can you honour to build a positive mindset, and hold an openness to what is possible when facing into a challenge?  How might you attach meaning to your work and align it with your purpose, so you feel more connected, of worth and significance in what you do?  These are the first steps to lead as your best yourself.

Reframe your goals

With so much on your plate, it can be challenging to know what to focus on. Utilise a goal hierarchy to create a comprehensive roadmap to guide your way. This reduces your chances of being pulled off course by other competing priorities – and we all know that as a CFO you carry many!  

A goal hierarchy categorises your goals according to their time span. Once you identify a longer-term goal you can then craft shorter-term goals in support.  As CFO, an easy time span to consider is the financial year – what do hope to achieve over the course of this year, and what are the shorter-term goals required to achieve this longer-term goal?

Think of it like a mathematical equation:

Longer-term goal = Shorter-term goal 1 + shorter-term goal 2 + shorter-term goal 3 + shorter-term goal 4 + …

If you focus only on two or three of these goals, it is likely that you will not achieve the longer-term goal, as it depends on your attainment of each of the shorter-term goals. Use your time for self-reflection to self-coach against your defined goals to support both your goal orientation and goal achievement.

Don’t go it alone

With your multitude of responsibilities, it will be in your interests to empower your team and delegate appropriately.  This will help you to achieve your goals, and also assist you with managing your time and energy. Identify who can support your varied roles and invite them to participate.  A diverse team will broaden your perspective and learnings, and lead to more innovative solutions to complex problems. Their input will also lift your confidence should you be uncertain of your capacity to act in relation to any of the four faces of your CFO role.

Build your curiosity

When self-coaching, tune in to your mindset and ensure you remain curious.  This stance will assist you with avoiding complacency and will draw your attention to why information is presented in a particular way, or why methodologies are being adopted as stated.  Asking yourself what you have learnt from your conversations and interactions with others will aid you in lifting yourself out of the detail and change your perspective to see the bigger picture.

Lead with kindness

Remember that you will be at your best when you have self-coached yourself to set boundaries to manage your energy, stress, and anxiety. Listen also to the stories you tell yourself about your effectiveness and abilities and talk to yourself with compassion and kindness as you would a close friend. 

Similarly, consider how you lead others with kindness. Reflect on the deadlines you create, the teams you allocate in support, the coaching and training you offer, and the inclusive and safe environment you hold. As CFO you have much in your control and have the ability to create a system which is in support of others; you included.  Think about the leadership impact which you hope to have and self-coach your way to success.

About the author

Karen Stein PCC is an experienced Executive Coach with over 2000 coaching hours, and author of Be Your Own Leadership Coach (self-coaching strategies to lead your way) (Major Street Publishing). More tips and self-coaching practices can be discovered in her highly acclaimed evidence-based book, which shares reflective self-coaching exercises, stories and more. 

For more information on Karen or her books visit: www.karensteincoaching.com

Or connect with Karen at https://www.linkedin.com/in/karen-stein-coaching/