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A CFO Develops His Influence

in a Family-Run Business

Case Study #1
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The Challenge

The CFO of a half-billion dollar company operating multiple brands and locations in Northern California brought 20 years of corporate experience to the job. But being a part of a family-run business — with its unique dynamics and culture — was new. After a few years in his role, leading 12 people in the finance department and interacting with leaders across the organization, the CFO realized that something needed to change.

His focus on results had led to a perception that he didn’t value relationships. There were feuds with key members of the leadership team, preventing him from doing his job. To top it off, as an introvert, the seemingly endless need for his time and attention could get overwhelming.

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The Work

Working together for 18 months, the first step was to focus on perspective taking, to help the CFO see the dynamics from different points of view and values. This set the stage for developing his relationship — building skills. He already had solid relationships with several key leaders. So we worked on the area of Developing Your Influence, creating a strategy to expand that base of relationship and mutual support. The CFO focused on letting himself be vulnerable with more members of the leadership team, to earn their trust and build rapport.

In the area of Mastering the Art of Results, the CFO had a tendency to rush to wrap projects up, often before others were ready. We worked on developing his ability to let projects evolve naturally, even if they didn’t complete on his timeframe.

We also came up with new ways for him to manage his energy, by carving out quiet time during the workday and during meetings to regroup, so he could respond from a grounded place, instead of reacting.

“I now have the skill and ability to take charge of any situation.”

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The Result

Now this CFO has a lot of deep stakeholder support from key leaders across the organization. He has a lot more influence throughout the organization and he’s helped the company raise standards for their employees while keeping the collegial feel they value.

He was able to move out some low performers in his department, promote high performers, and reassign some people to roles that are better suited to their skills and talents. He has built more time into his day for meetings with his direct reports. As a result of this work, not only is this CFO more effective. he feels happier, too.