7 financial leadership landmines

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Author: George Bradt
Date: Dec. 2013
From: Financial Executive(Vol. 29, Issue 10)
Publisher: Financial Executives International
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,684 words
Lexile Measure: 1140L

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There are seven major interrelated onboarding risk factors, or "landmines," each of which new leaders should be looking to dismantle at specific points along their journey in new financial leadership roles. You cannot reduce the risks inherent in a new position until you identify them, understand their clanger and either dance around them or purposefully deactivate them.

These can be viewed as seven onboarding landmines:

LANDMINE 1 organization

Organizational landmines are rooted in the lack of a clear, concise, differentiating and winning strategy. These put the new leader in risky predicaments. While some individuals thrive on turnarounds, make sure the organization you are joining is not in trouble without knowing it.

For example, a financial executive named Lou was excited about his new job as vice president of financial planning for a division of a major player in the software business. As it turned out, the division had no competitive advantage and was competing against an entrenched competitor that had quickly stepped into the gap on which Lou's new company had staked the division's future. Six months into the job, Lou's division was shut clown and he was out of job.


Role landmines happen when expectations, resources or key stakeholders are not aligned. Often executives step into jobs thai are virtually impossible from the start because the expectations that exist are unrealistic.

The most common indication of role landmines is when key stakeholders are not aligned around the new executive's (1) role and responsibilities; (2) deliverables; (3) authority; (4) interactions; and (5) access to essential resources. Make sure you know exactly what the new boss expects you to deliver and what resources can be controlled and influenced to deliver against those expectations.

One new chief financial officer (CFO) had done a great job of negotiating his title and package, but had failed to consider reporting lines and resources. He soon learned that neither the controller, treasurer nor the head of investor relations reported to him. His only direct reports were the heads of financial planning and analysis and risk.

By accepting the title of "CFO" without the appropriate authority, all he had managed to do was to paint a target on his back for his peers to shoot at so they could get him out of the way and strengthen their own positions.

LANDMINE 3 personal

Personal landmines are the ones that individuals bring to the new job. They are activated when significant gaps exist in one's strengths, motivation or fit for the job. Often executives assume that...

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