The agile CFO

In a business environment where change is the new normal, recruiting chief financial officers (CFOs) who demonstrate Learning Agility.

In a business environment where change is the new normal, recruiting chief financial officers (CFOs) who demonstrate Learning Agility—that is, the ability to quickly learn and react to shifting situations—is more important than ever. During the financial crisis, it was the agile CFOs who could turn on the dime of disruption, react decisively to market turmoil, and adapt to the ensuing cost cutting and regulatory demands.

For this study, we invited 25 experienced CFOs of large companies in Australia (20 listed in the ASX) to complete a psychometric assessment of Learning Agility and its five facets: Self-Awareness, Change Agility, Results Agility, People Agility, and Mental Agility. The aggregate CFO results reveal an above-average level of overall Learning Agility with 36% of the group scoring in the high range.

The CFOs highest scores were in the area of Result Agility—but that also had the most evidence of potential overuse. That suggests that some CFOs might lead too much by just pushing for solutions. The majority of CFOs also scored in the high range on Change Agility and Mental Agility, which suggests that they are adept at handling complex problems and charting a new course.

The lowest score across all the CFOs? People Agility, which is an aspect of their leadership that they will need to develop particularly if they aspire to the CEO role. 

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