How to Develop Financial Leadership

There are only so many ways a financial professional can develop the skills needed to be an effective CFO.  Most of us weren’t born with the knowledge of how to be the best CFO we can be. So, how do we go about honing our financial leadership skills?  Here are 3 ways we’ve found on how to develop financial leadership skills…

3 Ways on How to Develop Financial Leadership Skills

how to develop financial leadership

On-the-Job Training

One way to develop financial leadership is through on-the-job training. There’s no doubt that real-world experience is one of the best teachers around. The trouble with this approach is that you can’t always be assured you are being exposed to the skills you need over a reasonable time horizon to put these new skills to use. It’s a function of time and quality. In short, this method is best for those of us who have 25+ years to spend in a dynamic and challenging environment.

how to develop financial leadership


From the emergence of the craft guilds in medieval Europe to the development of vocational and technical schools, apprenticeship has long been an avenue for those seeking to learn a trade and develop their skills.  Working under the tutelage of a seasoned CFO is most certainly an efficient and effective way to develop financial leadership.  The issue today’s financial professionals face, particularly those in the middle market, is that companies are becoming increasingly flatter. Consequently, mentors within the company are harder to find.  If you’re lucky enough to have such an individual to learn from, then count your blessings and keep your eyes and ears open.

how to develop financial leadership


Coaching is the modern form of apprenticeship. It combines the best features of on-the-job training and apprenticeship by providing access to the experience of a seasoned professional over a shorter time horizon.  Coaching can take on many forms. From a one-on-one experience much like the apprenticeships of old to a group setting where individuals have access not only to the expertise of the coach, but also to the experience of the other participants. Which type of coaching is right for you is largely dependent upon your preference and your budget. Are you willing to pay a premium to have the undivided attention of a coach? Or would you rather share the experience (and the cost) with a group of like-minded individuals? 

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