From technical Expert to organisational leader

The Context

Sam, a CFO was very skilled within their technical role and considered a great asset with their business, a Tier 1 manufacturing business within the automotive industry. Their concern which they raised in coaching was that they had been asked by the CEO to be more strategic and discussed this in coaching to gain insights into what this might mean in practice.

The challenge

After considering the CEO’s request with their coach they expressed the concern that if they became more strategic then they would have less time for their technical work which they would then have to delegate within their team and that make them vulnerable because they could be replaced more easily if their skills were available within their team. They saw the challenge as ignoring the request and being safe through their technical knowledge or accepting the request and risking their future.

The coaching

As a coach the first step was to ask about the validity of their perspective – was it really as stark as the either/or choice that they had determined as the options available – were there not, in fact a range of options that they could take. The second step was to explore the validity of their understanding of the consequences – would they really be vulnerable if they delegated some technical aspects and what would be the consequences of ignoring the request from the CEO.

In this way we explored their understanding of the choice, the context and the consequences and helped them to gain deeper insights and more productive options than they had seen in the first instance.

The conversation led on to explore those more productive options and Sam came to the realisation that if they took a broader, organisational and value-focused approach to the decision they could actually make a step forward strategically and become more safe within the business.

The outcome

Sam decided that they could delegate some aspects of their technical work to create time and also to develop capability within their team. They could then use that time to use Their technical knowledge and experience to explore challenges and opportunities at a a strategic level – in essence use their technical skills In a strategic way to add more value. They realised that they were the only one in position to operate both technically and strategically within the finance field and that this was a greater and more valuable USP and contribution than simply working from within their silo.

It took a matter of weeks for Sam to be comfortable with this new way of working – as an enterprise leader with responsibility for Finance rather than as a Finance leader. It took the CEO about the same time to recognise the added value contributions and took the finance team considerably less time to thank them for the opportunity to do more interesting work.

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