Leadership Perspectives

Managing conflicting leadership roles with personal mastery

June 7, 2012

This month, Financial Executive Magazine published an article that I wrote for financial officers. (Click here to read it.) The article was titled “Leading with Personal Mastery,” and spoke to the challenge that CFOs have in fulfilling a dual role.

Dual roles to fulfill. On one hand, CFOs are responsible for guarding the financial integrity and risk management of their organizations. On the other hand, they are members of a larger team that is responsible for the sustainability and growth of the entire enterprise. When these roles conflict, financial officers are left to feel like “the bad guy.”

In reality, the challenge is the same for all members of the team. Each team member has their area of the organization that they are responsible for and, if they are not careful, these areas become silos, with the head of each silo fighting for their division or department, often at the expense of the greater good of the organization.

Leaders need to focus on the greater good. One executive team that I have worked with for a good while has worked to conscientiously break down their silos. In the beginning of my work with the team, one team member struggled to understand the distinction between his two roles. To clarify the point, I told him that as a member of the executive team, he was most effective when he could make decisions that were right for his organization, even when he knew the decisions were not the most favorable for his particular department and its members. By the stricken look on his face, I saw that he had gotten the point.

This particular team has made tremendous progress. We met this week and spent time enumerating the teams’ many accomplishments. Today, they are a more high-performing courageous team and each of them looks out for all of the silos, not just their own.

The path to personal mastery. These leaders, and others who want to be more high performing in their dual roles, are well-served by individual work on their own personal mastery.

Personal mastery is a journey, not a definitive destination. It refers to the process of self-development and continuous improvement that promotes learning, skill enhancement, and understanding. To leaders, this means undertaking a path to greater self-awareness, increasing their interpersonal skills, and gaining the courage to be both honest and authentic.

Enhanced personal mastery helps leaders maintain composure in the face of conflicting roles and gives them the wisdom to balance a focus on results with a focus on relationships. Read more here…

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