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Don’t Let These Three CFO Personality Types Define You

February 10, 2016 |

Some personality tests obviously have more credibility than others. At the one end of the spectrum is Myers-Briggs, which has been used for decades in a wide range of industries to help identify the traits that contribute positively or negatively to organizational outcomes. At the other end of the spectrum is the Cosmo Quiz, or those tests you sometimes see on Facebook.

A recent post on CIO Insight, however, takes an unusual approach to the personality quiz by conducting research with CFOs, to whom IT leaders often report, then organizing the results into a series of personality-driven categories. These are just a few of them:

Visionaries: Those who prefer to make decisions based upon experience and intuition

Politicians: Those who lead cautiously with a methodical, team-based approach

Revolutionaries: Those who take a maverick approach to data and who are happy to source it outside of designated business systems

If none of these sound like you, don’t worry. That may be because you’re a “traditionalist” who sticks to established systems. Some of the other variations sound more accusatory, such as “carers,” who delay a decision rather than make a mistake (because they care, presumably).

The point of all this, of course, is to help those leading technology decisions better prepare for the kind of interaction they might have with whoever is leading the finance department. If you want to improve your ability to forecast using data, for example, you might feel confident if you know you’re dealing with a “revolutionary” CFO, but maybe not if you’ve got a “politician CFO” on your hands.

The Danger of Stereotypes

Just as CIOs probably wouldn’t want to be pigeon-holed, however, it may behoove more finance leaders to improve their relationship with IT and ensure it’s understood that you don’t have a standard approach to every challenge or opportunity. There are also some of these personality profiles in every CFO, like “conductors” who “set tough goals for themselves and others,” aren’t there?

Perhaps instead of trading in stereotypes, a healthy dialogue between finance and IT would help define how certain problems or potential technology solutions should be evaluated. Some might represent visionary or even revolutionary change, while others should be rooted in a “traditionalist” vein (like using Excel spreadsheets as the backbone of your corporate performance management play).

Ultimately, our personalities are not fixed but forever evolving based on what we experience, how we learn and what we want to accomplish. CFOs are no different, and they need to make sure CIOs – and the organization in general – recognize that and interact with them accordingly.

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