Today I explore the CFO mindset with Tony Shafar. Tony is an executive coach. He coaches business leaders and in particular people in senior finance roles. Tony believes that for most the technical abilities needed to do the job are taken for granted, but these only account for a small part of what makes a successful leader. The rest is mindset. We explore how the wrong mindset can undermine you, and how to address the problem.
About Tony Shafar
After studying Accountancy and Business at Strathyclyde University, Tony qualified as a Chartered Accountant working for Grant Thornton in Glasgow. Upon qualification, he moved to the London office specialising in Corporate Finance.
Tony’s career progressed through senior finance roles at Morrisons and Virgin Media. He then spent 10 years working as a Finance Director for Ogilvy where he was a key member of the senior management team, managing the P&L, negotiating with clients, and working alongside the CEO managing staff and other key stakeholders.
Tony realised being a finance director with a large corporate was no longer fuelling his passion, and he changed direction to become a coach alongside a role as a portfolio CFO for a number of smaller organisations including owner managed businesses and technology start ups. He enjoyed taking on a broader role, not only including managing the finances and helping with fund raising but also having operational responsibilities in helping manage the business.
Whats the issue with CFO mindset?
The technical aspects of the job are taken for granted, you have a good no2 producing numbers for you. The mechanics are 15% of the job. The rest is mindset. Its such a big part of the role you have to get it right.
Most of the time Tony’s role is to help people get clarity on what’s holding them back. Discover what this is and you have the key to creating the right mindset for success.
Mentoring and coaching can really help you. An experienced mentor can help you navigate the diverse challenges your role gives you. If mentoring interests you then GrowCFO can help, and you can find out more here.
Uncertainty is the biggest problem
Do you ever say to yourself:
“ I’m not experienced enough to get that promotion”
“I can’t let people know that I’m struggling with this as they will see me as incapable and not up to the job”
“ I would like to take on that assignment but I’m worried that I might fail”
These negative, fearful thoughts are not uncommon and come from limiting beliefs, embedded in your mind. They have been built up throughout your life. They are determined by many factors including experiences of the past and what people said you could or couldn’t do.
Is this common amongst finance leaders?
Lots of Tony’s clients talk about uncertainty and fearful thoughts when making key decisions. This uncertainty stops them taking the next step, even when that step is something they really want. You might be a financial controller wanting to progress to CFO. You don’t know whether you can do the role. This is because you have never done it before. Uncertainty leads to doubt about whether to apply for role and inaction or procrastination.
Procrastination leads to unhappiness as you aren’t getting fulfilment.The more senior the role the bigger the problem, so CFO mindset is vital.
how do you encourage someone to push through?
You must identify the real underlying fear thats holding you back. What’s stopping you taking the next step or making the key decision? Its usually uncertainty and your natural tendency to avoid risk.
By accepting a limiting belief, it will become your reality, so once you hear the negative critic in your head, call it out, and ask yourself something which may question your limiting belief and help move you towards your solution as opposed to focusing on the problem.
Good questions to ask yourself include:
“Do I really know this to be the case or am I assuming it?”
“If my friend had the same problem what would I advise them to do?”
“How else could I look at this?”
“What could be a more helpful, empowering belief?”
By starting to ask yourself different questions when encountering limiting beliefs, you will change your reality and move it more towards a future that you really want.
CFO Mindset and imposter syndrome
Most first time CFOs suffer from imposter syndrome. You might not admit to imposter syndrome openly, but its likely that you will doubt some part of your ability to do your job. Imposter syndrome is usually regarded as a problem. Tony actually believes it might not be a bad thing. Imposter syndrome actually shows you are making progress. You have left your comfort zone and are addressing the unknown and uncertain.
Gravitas and the CFO Mindset
Gravitas is important. If you start emulating a role model CFO you will soon adopt the right habits. Who is your role model? Ask yourself “what gives them authority & stature?”.
How does your role model respond to particular situations? When confronted with a situation you can ask yourself “how would they respond?” This technique can depersonalise the situation and give you an objective view.
Find out more about Tony Shafar
Tony is part of the GrowCFO community and is often found posting thought provoking articles. Why don’t you drop over to the community and start a conversation with him?
Tony runs his own coaching business, Shafar Coaching