1 Create a Plan for Your First 100 Days
You will likely be observed with a narrow lens during your first 100 days by the CEO; scrutinized to understand your strengths and weaknesses. The perception you create for your individual brand in the initial days of your new role will make a lasting impression on the CEO. So, your number one task for the first 100 days is to make that first impression a positive one. Create a path to success for your first 100 days, which clearly identifies easy and/or high impact wins you can deliver to the organization. If you’re able to deliver value quickly to the organization, you’ll win the confidence and trust of the CEO. Don’t forget – proactive communication will be a key factor in your success.
2 Build Alignment on Strategy & Deliverables
Book a meeting with the CEO to present your finance vision and strategy; explaining how it supports the broader corporate priorities. This offers you the chance to hear from the CEO on their expectations of what needs to be delivered. Conclude with well-aligned short, medium, and long term deliverables that are in sync with the organization’s plan and strategy. Once you’ve done this, make sure you schedule regular catch ups to reflect on what went right and how you can unlock further value for the organization.
3 Challenge the Status Quo
Always seek out better ways of doing the same thing. This starts with understanding why the status quo exists – what is working, and what isn’t. Make sure you develop key insights on industry and global trends, how they impact your organization’s performance and potential, as well as relevant topics that may be out of your comfort zone. Look out for opportunities to innovate and improve efficiency with a solutions-focused mindset. This approach will help you bring diverse perspectives to the table that your CEO will appreciate.
4 It’s Okay to Disagree
Having differences of opinion is only natural, and at times, there will be disagreements between you and the CEO. Good CEOs appreciate people who challenge them, who are independent. When you disagree with the CEO, make sure you come to the conversation backed with clear data and facts. Over time, if you demonstrate integrity in your words and actions and base your opinions on data, you’ll build up a deeper level of trust with the CEO, which will make handling disagreements easier. However, on the flip side, if the data presented to you is more compelling than what you’ve offered, it’s important that you don’t continue disagreeing and admit that the alternative way is better. This will allow you to cultivate a relationship of mutual respect with the CEO.
5 Develop Your Soft Skills
Another pillar to building a successful rapport with your CEO is to demonstrate that you’re a continuous learner. In this new role, you will need to pick up new skills in order to progress. In a senior leadership position, your soft skills form vital weapons in your arsenal. Develop your executive presence so that when you meet external stakeholders, lenders, regulators, or shareholders, you’re projecting confidence and competence. When you’re meeting with internal stakeholders such as business unit heads, communicate clearly and proactively so that you’re seen as a team player who is focused on advancing the organization’s goals.
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President & CFO