The CFO of our company is technically fantastic at her job, yet I am hearing from her team that morale is down because she is not that open minded and doesn’t listen well. What are some things she can do?
Barbara Baill, Senior Leadership Consultant responded:
It’s great that your CFO has the technical component of the job down. Next, she needs to understand that the leadership components of her role are equally important. This is a common challenge for many who come to a leadership role through their technical expertise. Daniel Goleman, famous for his research in emotional intelligence, has identified that emotional intelligence is critical to effective leadership (refer to HBR, “What Makes A Leader”, Daniel Goleman, November-December 1998). He has identified five components for emotional intelligence for effective leaders: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. It sounds like your CFO could benefit from developing the capacity to show more empathy and build more rapport (social skills) with her people through active listening.
Your coaching of her will be key to her continued growth as a leader. Specifically, first give her straight and compassionate feedback. Appreciate the value of her technical expertise to the business. Second, explain her next opportunity for growth is as a leader of her team. As part of this, she will need to spend more team listening to her team in a way that they feel heard and appreciated. “Expert” executives often feel that their job is to have all the answers. You will need to coach her that her job as a leader is broader than that. It begins by having an engaged and empowered team. The first step in that process is listening to the team, building rapport, and only then, will she be able to motivate them towards a common goal. Through your coaching, you will be increasing her self-awareness as you help her to develop the leadership part of her role.
This is a great opportunity for the two of you to work together to enhance her contributions to the overall business and become an more effective leader.
For more resources on developing leadership skills, refer to previous Ask Mariposa blogs.