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How CFO's Can Turn Stakeholders Into Allies - By Maureen O'Connell

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I, Maureen O'Connel, CFO at Scholastic Corportation will try to offer 3 helpful guidelines on how CFOs can turn unfamiliar stakeholders into loyal allies even as the clock is ticking.

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How CFO's Can Turn Stakeholders Into Allies - By Maureen O'Connell

  1. 1. CFO and Stakeholders  As soon as a CFO takes over the reins, he/she has to forge healthy relationships with the CEO, the Board of Directors, colleagues and staff. Delay or dormancy in establishing good relations with stakeholders can jeopardize not only their financial agenda but also their career.  I’ll try to offer 3 helpful guidelines on how CFOs can turn unfamiliar stakeholders into loyal allies even as the clock is ticking.
  2. 2. 1) Listen  Listening is the key to establishing good relationships, both personal and professional. Spend some time keenly listening for both direct demands and subtle indicators to understand what exactly the stakeholders need and what they would rather avoid.  Eg: a business head may need data interpretation from your team to make better decisions for his own team's tasks. The CIO may want a flexible mindset to ROI so he/she may optimally harness technology to produce tangible results in the long run. Listening helps you gather information to strengthen your own  The process of listening may begin with asking questions - individually, through group discussions or questionnaires. But remember that it is often difficult for stakeholders to put exactly what they want - or don't - in so many words.
  3. 3. 2) Talk so that They May Listen  Different individuals have different styles of grasping what they hear and responding to it. Learn to adapt your communication accordingly.  For instance, some individuals prize logic and systems. They may have an analytical and practical approach, preferring to get to the point over small talk and aggressively focusing on achieving objectives. It is best to keep your conversation with them clear, concise and direct, avoiding sentimentality, and respecting them as leaders.
  4. 4. 3) Lead  The most effective leaders are ones who are followed even without having formal designations. You must lead despite having one.  Use your resources to the optimum to achieve this goal. Your position could help you get recognized and heard; but employ your interpersonal skills to attract support.  others with your far-sightedness, integrity and commitment to quality.  Finally, reward a job well done by expressing gratitude and giving greater autonomy.
  5. 5. Finally…  Understanding your stakeholders' needs, communicating your expectations effectively and leading beyond formal authority will help you turn them into loyal supporters to drive your organization towards profitability and sustainability.
  6. 6. Maureen O'Connell Maureen O’Connell is the current Executive VP, CFO and CAO of Scholastic Corporation. When not working, Maureen loves running, Skiing, Scuba Diving or Travelling.

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