The best- and worst-performing CFO leadership styles

A CFO's decision-making style can have a significant impact on the success of a company, according to a recent report by Epicor Software.

The report was based on interviews with more than 1,500 CFOs from businesses in 11 countries, including the U.S. Based on the survey responses, the study found CFOs fall into six distinctive decision-making groups:

  • politicians (27 percent)
  • revolutionaries (19 percent)
  • carers (19 percent)
  • conductors (16 percent)
  • traditionalists (9 percent)
  • visionaries (9 percent)

Here are six findings from the report.

1. The study found that CFOs who were characterized as revolutionaries — those who set challenging goals and are happy to consider changing corporate culture and structures — are tied to the companies that had the greatest profit growth.

2. CFOs characterized as traditionalists — those who prefer to work within existing systems — had the least profit growth.

3. The greatest percentage of CFOs were deemed to have politician decision-making styles. "The politician is a more cautious leader with a methodical, team-based approach," the report stated. This type of CFO is more likely than average to believe that collaboration is a key challenge that needs addressing (27 percent vs. 22 percent sample average).

4. CFOs who fall into the conductor leadership style tend to set challenging goals for themselves and their staff and are happy to bend the rules and work outside of formal systems. These CFOs are more likely than average to make decisions based on their gut instincts rather than hard data (54 percent vs. 46 percent sample average).

5. The carer CFO would rather delay a decision than risk mistakes. One of the greatest concerns of these CFOs is a lack of accurate data.

6. CFOs who have the visionary leadership style like to make decisions based on experience and intuition. They fear not having the time or resources to surface meaningful insights more than average (26 percent vs. 18 percent sample average).

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