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CFO or CEO: Who's in the 'driver' seat?

Lisa Yoon | March 1, 2012
What sort of personality should a CFO have to be influential and effective? A collaborative one, for sure.

What sort of personality should a CFO have to be influential and effective? A collaborative one, for sure.

But according to research by Deloitte on working relationships between finance chiefs and their CEOs --- research that breaks personalities into four main types -- success depends a lot on the personality pairings between CFOs and CEOs. According to Deloitte's CFO study, titled "The Chemistry of CEO/CFO Relationships," here are the four personality types that CEOs and CFOs fall into:

  • Drivers. Analytical, logical, experimental, determined, decisive, direct, tough, competitive, pragmatic.
  • Guardians. Concrete, process- and detail-oriented, traditional, socially connected, loyal, conscientious.
  • Pioneers. Adventurous, creative, interested in new experiences, high-energy, spontaneous, optimistic, adaptable.
  • Integrators. Web-thinking, intuitive, imaginative, empathic, expressive, diplomatic.

In a recent survey, researchers at Deloitte asked 91 large-company CFOs which personality type they themselves identified with, as well as the type that described their CEO. Just over half the finance chiefs self-identified as drivers, while 29% said they were guardians. The other 20% split evenly between integrators (11%) and pioneers (10%.)

And the CEOs, in the eyes of the finance person? Well, 34% said the boss was a driver, while 33% called the CEO a pioneer --- even though that was the category were the fewest finance chiefs saw themselves. CFOs saw CEOs as guardians 22%, and integrators 11% of the time.

In terms of CFO-CEO pairings, it appears drivers are the key component in amicable, and lasting, partnerships. More than three-quarters of the pairs (77%) had at least one driver. According to Deloitte, this suggests the versatility of the driver type; it's harmonious in pairings with any personality type. It may also be that the decisive and practical styles of drivers are simply an essential part of an effective CFO-CEO partnership.

Driver CFOs --- presumably being able to pair well with different CEO types -- enjoy important benefits among other CFO types, in this Deloitte view. The drivers' versatility affords them more career options, better partnerships with their CEOs, and the ability to adapt to CEO changes.

That same flexibility, meanwhile, might even help ambitious CFOs "drive" toward the CEO role in the future.

 

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