Career Management III: Influence
From a career management point of view, influence is one of the broadest areas and ties into almost all aspects of the career of an accounting and finance professional. Not only is influence a key leadership behavior, but it relates to the way we interact with all others in our business, team and broader network.
The concept of influence is broken into two key categories:
External Influence – Conveying a message to others that are impactful on our career both verbally, in the written form, in a public arena and in the actions and decisions we make. This defines our professional brand.
Internal Influence – Harnessing resilience and mental toughness across a career journey, to bounce back and navigate through challenging times, and to be prepared to act in a way that relates to you achieving and fulfilling the career that you want and deserve.
At The Outperformer, we work with our clients on all components of influence related to both personal and team performance. In this course, we will address some concepts that will be valuable in your journey to the CFO and a senior finance leadership career.
KAN – Positioning Yourself As A Partner
KAN – Positioning Yourself As A Partner
Almost all finance functions, starting at the most junior require a level of partnership and engagement with the business. As finance functions evolve, this will become more and more apparent. Regardless, the CFO role is always designed to be a partner to the C-suite, leadership group, Board and broader business.
In communicating and becoming an impactful leader, future CFOs need to spend time shaping their message to their audience. Regardless of the country, culture, stakeholder experiences, business phase or challenges, we can become aware and communicate in a way that delivers more value and respects the perspective of our audience, increasing trust and the impact of our message. This is done through analyzing three areas:
Knowledge – This relates to what the audience knows about the topic and influencing factors related to the issue at hand.
Attitude – This relates to their belief and level of interest or engagement with a topic. You explore what how they react emotionally to a topic and what creates motivation to be more engaged with the issue.
Needs – This relates to how this issue impacts the things they need to get done in their role, or want to get done. You should acknowledge that people act on the things that serve their needs and interests firsts.
Communication Method – Acknowledging cultural components of the way you communicate that will either support or reduce the impact of your message.
Where does this become valuable:
Working with a leader who will be impactful on future promotions or become an advocate in the future.
Enrolling the support of stakeholders or team members to perform in their own role, making your job and own performance raise.
Pitching yourself during an interview or promotion conversation.
Engaging in mentorship or network relationship building conversations.
Designing impactful reporting and presentation of insights.
Public presentations which help your brand develop and position you as a person of influence or subject matter expert.
Work with a key stakeholder and explore the following:
Where can I (or the finance function) adjust the way we are presenting or providing information to make it easier to digest?
What are the most important challenges in your role of the next 12 – 18 months?
Who is the most impactful finance person you have ever worked with and why?
What is it about them that you valued when you engaged with them?
The above questions will help you improve your KAN analysis for future engagements. You may be able to assume some of the responses, but if you take these questions deeper and try to get accurate, specific feedback, you will be able to use this to your advantage.
DSR - Delivery, Stretch, Reputation
This is a simple template that Brad explores as part of strategic career management in the finance space. It relates to the foundational need for finance leaders to stretch and grow in areas that A) primarily create value for the organization and its strategic goals B) allow the accounting or finance professional to build their career narrative and skill set relative to their goals C) In creating this value, engaging and maintaining a career-advantageous relationship with key people in the business. Mapping out each section of the DSR creates an agile roadmap for positioning yourself well for future development and support from leaders in the organization.
NETWORKING - STRETCH MAP
Networking is often poorly executed by most accounting and finance professionals, and not for the want of trying. Effective career networking is about engaging with people who are willing to maintain a relationship, and this relationships often involve deeper and more complex conversations than simple trading a business card or a transactional “one-off” meeting.
The Stretch Map ties in your career challenges and growth goals to key people that could play a role in helping you solve or improve your performance relative to these challenges or goals. Typically, these people will have experience in areas that you don’t and have worked through similar career challenges in the past, hence making them a valuable resource and someone to tap into for support beyond your initial discussion.
CAREER NARRATIVE - TRACKING STORIES & KEY CAREER EVENTS
For most finance leaders, their functional experience and skills are very wide and in most cases, reflect that of almost all other finance leaders at a similar stage of their career. What we acknowledge in our development towards the CFO chair, or elsewhere, is that leaders are not drawn to functional skills, especially in interviews or initial professional conversations.
What differentiates is the ability to make a difference through strategic challenges and events in your career. Not only are these stories more emotive and engaging, but they reflect the characteristics and behaviours that are important at a senior executive level.
This tool is used to track stories that you want to leverage during networking and career conversations that reflect your personal brand.
Career Assets – Resume, LinkedIn, Articles
Career Assets – Resume, LinkedIn, Articles
Career assets work for you when you can’t be there to do it. They are like business assets – the create value for you.
The key theme we work on with accounting and finance professionals is to design your assets – resumes and LinkedIn profile – to reflect where you want to go, not just where you have been.
Due to the nature of cultural and cognitive bias, as well as nature of our limbic brain function, these tools can either become highly engaging very quickly, or be discarded and ignored. In a highly competitive landscape, with many experienced finance professionals across the world, putting yourself in a strong position with these assets gives you the chance to make better decisions about your career, with more choice.
What to think about:
1. Headlines – What makes you stand out and how do you use attention grabbing words that matter to your audience.
2. Stories about value, not just skills and tasks – Leaders want to see that you have made an impact, so the way you design this into your resume or LinkedIn profile is important. Think of it this way; if you have run budget processes, created forecasts and strategic plans, completed tax returns, produced financial reports and other tasks of a typical finance role, so has everyone else you will be competing with in the employment market. What makes you different?
3. A well designed Resume or LinkedIn profile attracts your target audience and has those that are not in that target group opt out – It is important to remember that your resume is not going to make every company and manager advertising a role want to interview you. This is a good thing. You only want to design your CV to attract the types of roles and leaders you want to work. It would be like a bikini company expecting men to be as interested in their product as women; it is not their focus and women yield a far better result for their business.
4. Most impactful items early – In some cultures, your education and qualifications may be very important, in others, they are not. To some employers, the level of impact you have had on a business and your ability to drive results are most important, to others, your job title and place of employment may be enough to catch their interest. Learn about your audience and raise all of the most important items to them to the top of the document.
Go to two future employers for your next “dream” job, and ask them about the three most important features that matter to them about someone they would hire into that role.
To ensure you get the right detail, ask specifically, what would a person need to show you they have done to provide confidence in those traits?
What is something someone has done in this role to show you they are succeeding or performing to a high standard?
Listen in for:
The descriptive words they use – What actions does someone carry out to create this description?
The events – What has been achieved? (Not the tasks but the outcomes) The qualifications or “prerequisites” – Does the person mention things the person must have done before they take the role, or are they more focused on performance and behaviours?