The Social CFO: Communicate or Evaporate

25-01-2022 | Ernie Humphrey | treasuryXL | LinkedIn |

As the CFO role continues to evolve in many areas the focus on accounting and reporting is still important, but there are additional expectations for today’s CFOs, including the ability to communicate with impact to deliver the story behind the numbers and build better relationships with their fellow leaders across the enterprise. CFO success in today’s world means impacting performance across the enterprise.

Collaborating effectively requires a CFO need to communicate effectively. Communication skills do not come naturally for most CFOs.

Five pillars of effective communication are:

  1. Listening
  2. Authenticity & Honesty
  3. Being Proactive vs. Reactive
  4. Aligning Perceptions and Reality
  5. Having Deliberative Discussions vs. Arguing


The best communicators are the best listeners. Listening is a skill that any CFO would do to invest in developing. I found a great blog from that shares 10 tips to leverage in listening effectively, The 10 Principles of Listening. The 10 principles are as follows:

  1. Stop Talking
  2. Prepare Yourself to Listen
  3. Put your Counterparty at Ease
  4. Remove Distractions
  5. Empathize
  6. Be Patient
  7. Avoid Personal Prejudice
  8. Listen to the Tone
  9. Listen for Ideas not Just Words
  10. Watch for Non-Verbal Communication

Authenticity & Honesty

Most finance leaders will need to go out of their comfort zones in communicating as often as they need to, with the people they need to, to build trust and collaborate. It is important to remain to your personality in communication. If you are not a comedian, do not try and become one. If you are not a high energy personality, do not drink give cups of coffee each morning to be more energetic when speaking with people.

Honesty is the best policy, even in business. You can be honest and deliver information that the person you are speaking with might not like. It is all about the tone of your messaging. Tone in how you say what you say and the volume at which you say it

Being Proactive vs. Reactive

If you see an issue coming or an opportunity for collaboration communicate proactively. Do not wait for an issue to arise to deal with an impending problem, and do not let an opportunity go by the wayside because you wait to long to pursue it.

If you make a mistake own it and reach out to those who may be impacted by it before it does. That will build trust and inspire others to trust you enough to share their mistakes with you and help you mitigate the consequences from it. We are all human, be human, and allow others to do the same.

Aligning Perceptions and Reality

Many careers have been derailed when perceptions that are not true become reality to colleagues that can impact their job success and/or their job status. It is important to pay attention to how others perceive you and that is done through effective listening and honest communication.

If you have invested in building trust with colleagues, then you will “get wind” of how you are perceived before these perceptions impact your job performance and your career. This means that you must be willing to accept honest communication from others.

Deliberative Discussions vs. Arguing

Growth and innovation require friction. An effective leader has difficult conversations up and down the company org chart and knows how to unlock the value of disagreements.
Arguing involves emotion. Keeping emotion out of a conversation allows you to have difficult conversations and make decisions that ignite changes that impact company success without causing a fire from the sparks that emotion beings conversations that inherently involve friction

The career of any CFO who is not able to communicate effectively will evaporate in today’s world. CFOs need to invest in soft skills

Collaboration requires effective communication. I will explore the art and science of collaboration in a future blog.

Thank for reading!


Ernie Humphrey
Seasoned Treasury Expert
& CEO Treasury Webinars