(This post was originally published on LinkedIn July 1, 2014)
Last summer’s smash TV hit, Stephen King’s Under the Dome, broke all sorts of ratings records. It was the highest drama summer premiere on any network since 1992. In doing so it bested all the other “Dome” shows out there, from the Sugar Dome (The Food Network), to The Battle Dome (Syndicated). And why wouldn’t it? It contained the three key ingredients of television ratings gold: Sex, Secrets and Sci-fi (Oh my!).
Many are predicting Under the Dome will be the delightful summer diversion for a second year in a row. Good for them. But as any Baby Boomer worth their remote knows, it will never be the best “Dome” show in TV history. The best? That would be Get Smart, featuring the eternally entertaining, Cone of Silence.
Each week Max would sit at the Chief’s desk while the Cone of Silence, or “Mini-Dome” as it is now commonly referred to, (ok – just by me) would slowly descend from the ceiling and engulf them as they prepared to share top government secrets meant only for their ears. Of course once under the Dome, they couldn’t hear each other, prompting Max to start shouting while the veins on the Chief’s head looked like they would explode. A TV masterpiece.
OK. Maybe the CFO isn’t literally working under a dome, but they might as well be. The CFO is arguably the most visible position in the organization. And with pretty much every move they make and every step they take, well, you can almost hear Sting in the background singing, I’ll be watching you. Consider this.
Eye in the Sky
If you are thinking there isn’t one, you’re right – there isn’t just one. There are a whole bunch of them, and they can’t get enough of your CFO. The internal and external pressures of performing under the spotlight are substantial. Good thing CFO’s have ice water in their veins. To paraphrase Butch Cassidy…….WHO ARE THESE EYES? Let’s take a look at who’s watching your CFO.
A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal CFO Network gathered in the nation’s capital for their annual meeting. Deloitte was a sponsor, and in their CFO agenda piece, they noted: “Like it or not, perception matters. So when it comes to giving guidance to the Street, strong fundamentals will only get you so far – the real context for the numbers is your organization’s vision for what happens next. At those moments, the CFO isn’t just the face of the company. The CFO is the company.” Yikes! No pressure, right?
The CFO/CIO relationship is a complex one. Companies understand that to keep growing they will need more investment in IT and related services. The CIO wants her fair share of say in these matters and thus a beneficial working relationship with the CFO.In his article, The CIO Relationship With the CFO Is Based on Managing Risk, Michael Hugos, Principal, Center for Systems Innovation writes, “The CIO who shows their CFO how to effectively leverage cloud computing and move their company toward an opex operating model will become a trusted advisor to the senior executive who controls the company’s money.”
The Board of Directors
Very few companies have the CFO on their Board. CFO.com puts the number at around 8%. The other 92% pay very close attention to what the CFO does and has to say. The Hire Standard, the newsletter of Corporate Recruiters, said it best: “the Board expects the CFO to provide a sober, realistic view of the company’s progress that the Board can rely on.” After all, the CEO is expected to be positive and upbeat at all times, whereas the CFO is expected to maintain a clear, unemotional view based on the facts.
Great organizations don’t just happen. People make them great. More and more studies show that compensation is not even in the top 3 of what makes employees happy and productive. People just want the opportunity to use their brains, their talents and their skills to become excellent at what they do, which in turn helps the company become excellent at what it does. Creating this culture, where everyone expects to contribute and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, requires an investment in training and people. The CFO plays a key role in this process.
Phew! All this intense watching can have its effect on people.
The citizens of Chester Mill are terrified and confused living Under the Dome.
Maxwell Smart and the Chief are frustrated working under the Cone.
Ah – but the CFO, YOUR CFO, continues to shine and thrive under the scrutiny of the spotlight, proving once and for all that they are the Masters of their Dome–main.
[author_bio username=”Tom Reda” name=”yes”]