How to Contribute More towards Strategic Conversations

Serious strategizing. A cropped shot of a diverse group of businesspeople having a meeting.


CFOs have a unique financial perspective, the best working knowledge of the performance data and a strong overview of the bigger picture. You have huge amounts to contribute towards strategic conversations and it is essential that your voice is properly heard.

Well-respected CFOs are involved in their company’s strategic planning process from start to finish. Their opinions command authority and respect during the strategy formation, they document the required actions across each milestone, and they ensure the successful delivery of the business plan.

However, research suggests that most first-time CFOs have never previously been involved in strategy and struggle to make a significant impact during their first few roles. You may be an expert in financial planning and accounting but lack experience in developing and implementing the strategic plans. 

Many are excluded from the strategic planning process, feeling left out of key discussions and struggling to influence outcomes. This can easily devalue your role, weaken your board-level impact and stagnate your future career trajectory.

Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

To be consulted in strategic decisions, it is important to establish yourself as a thought leader. You can do this by communicating information, speaking at conferences, or teaching others. 

This starts by proactively building strong relationships with your company’s executive team and regularly sharing your valuable insights so that your views are well-respected throughout the company. You need to demonstrate that you are more than just a numbers person by thinking strategically about your decisions and their impact on the company.

Here are three ways to achieve this:

  1. Get involved early in the strategic planning process. This will give you a chance to provide input on the company’s goals and how they can be achieved.
  2. Share your insights with the executive team. Offer your thoughts on new initiatives and suggest alternatives if you think that something is not going to work.
  3. Make sure that your voice is heard at every meeting. If you’re not being consulted on a particular decision, ask why not. It’s important that the executive team knows that you have valuable insights to offer.

By sharing your insights and ideas with others, you will show that you have the knowledge and experience to contribute towards important conversations.

Grow Your C-Suite Influence

CFOs need to grow their level of C-Suite influence to act as a Strategic Business Partner. This elevates you into a better position to offer insights and recommendations that can help improve business performance.

Here are five levers by Executive Coach and Founder of Xquadrant Richard Medcalf:

The following are practical ways for you to successfully deliver each lever:

  1. Overcome the ceiling of complexity: Avoid being maxed out with recurring operational tasks that prevent you from investing time in higher value activities.
  2. Nail the moments of truth: Really grab the attention of your audience by bringing concise impactful relevant headlines that lead with the “so what” during key presentations.
  3. Manage stakeholders more than tasks: Build strong relationships and partner with the people you can add value to, rather than just delivering your job description.
  4. Have a plan for finance, don’t just have a financial plan: Develop a strategic plan towards evolving your finance function and test this with your stakeholders. Invest in building capabilities with future payback and upskill your team accordingly.
  5. Swap leadership hats: Spend time wearing your cross-functional business leader hat in addition to your finance leader functional hat. Think about the dynamics of your business, its overall health and the appropriateness of your strategy. Consider where you are letting yourselves down, challenge what could be done differently and adopt a business leadership role by partnering with other teams.

By delivering these five levers, you will significantly increase your level of C-Suite influence, and your opinions will command authority and respect throughout your leadership team and beyond.

Develop your Strategic Business Partner Skills

GrowCFO has plenty of offerings to help you quickly develop your Strategic Business Partner skills:

Register for GrowCFO Premium to access these valuable resources.

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