With the transformation of the CFO role from finance-centric to a multi-dimensional, people-centric position, more finance chiefs have taken a hands-on approach to their leadership styles. To keep managers and employees motivated, productive, and involved in decision-making, many finance leaders prioritize their presence within their own teams and the rest of the company. They need to do so, of course, without becoming overbearing to managers.
According to the Q2 2023 CFO Outlook Survey, managers blamed executives for their innovation issues. Whether it’s a perception of a lack of autonomy provided by leadership or a feeling their opinions aren’t being considered in innovation decision-making, some managers believe their hands are tied when it comes to modernizing. According to the CFO survey data collected from 500 business leaders, 61% of managers believe the executive leadership of their companies is holding them back from innovation.
Despite their feelings about their bosses’ role in progressing innovation, data shows managers are motivated to do well but may be looking for the next best career option. Nearly all (99%) of directors and managers indicated they were highly motivated, surpassing the 85% of managers who felt the same in last quarter’s survey. Still, according to CFO data, half of managers and directors stated they were actively looking for another job.
Managers, many of whom have been given a chance to implement work models of their choosing by their executives’ teams, have had a hand in innovation from a work environment perspective. Over two-thirds (67%) of managers told CFO their organizations have pivoted to a hybrid work model. Nearly half (45%) said they did this due to company requirements, while just over a fifth (22%) said their work model is dictated by the preference of the employees they manage.
As innovation in finding and securing quality talent can be just as valuable as incorporating some kind of automation, those in leadership positions were nearly unanimously confident in the people and systems they had in place to address the skills required for further technology implementation. Ninety-three percent of all executives were confident they could meet these demands in the future.
Executives were interested, for example, in how technology like ChatGPT could help their companies innovate. According to the CFO survey, 69% of companies planned to increase their use of artificial intelligence. A small portion remained skeptical — one in 10 planned to decrease or abandon their current approach to AI by the end of the year.
Managers frustrated with their executive team’s involvement in innovation must realize the widespread pressures executives have to deal with. On top of an unpredictable economy, banking disruption, and labor shifts, pressures around environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) may be reaching a breaking point.
According to the data, 94% of all executives said they felt some pressure from their companies to prioritize ESG initiatives. For many in leadership, these new business practices, which can blur the lines between business and politics, have become paramount in conversations with fellow executives, investors, employees, and even customers.
As measures like the corporate equality index have begun pushing companies to promote ESG practices, leadership may be scrambling to keep up with new regulations that significantly affect what their companies are worth.