The Fundamental Differences Between Leadership And Management

The Fundamental Differences Between Leadership And Management

Visionary leadership combined with great management achieves the best results. Seems obvious right? Then why do so many companies get it wrong, especially during times of needed change?

There are fundamental differences between leadership and management that apply to any team or organization, but the focus of this article is to explore the strengths of each as they apply to leading organizational change.

Generally speaking, management is a set of systems and processes designed for organizing, budgeting, staffing and problem solving to achieve the desired results of an organization. Leadership defines the vision, mission and what the “win” looks like in the future. It inspires the team to embody the beliefs and behaviors necessary to take the actions needed to achieve those results.

The most successful transformations occur when strong, visionary leadership converges with great management. Both are required to define a clear path, plan accordingly and see the mission plan through to fulfillment.

All organizations — large and small — face the need for change now more than ever. And not in a reactive manner but rather a proactive approach that is ingrained in the fabric of the organization’s culture. I previously wrote an article about developing and properly communicating a powerful change vision. The communication of the vision never ends during the change process and is woven into every aspect of what the leaders and managers do.

But it is important to note the differences in leadership and management, as they relate to the fundamental roles the transformation task force must take on. A transformation task force in this sense is the guiding body developed to lead a company through its transformation. This team must include senior leaders, front-line managers and other key team members that are well respected in their given fields of expertise.

Most organizations still focus on what is really management development, not true leadership development — although you see it called that all the time. Individuals can, of course, embody qualities of both disciplines, but in my experience, it seems to be rare that you have a great visionary leader who is also an effective manager, and vise versa.

Regardless, all aspects of a powerful change vision must be both led and managed for a successful outcome. Here, let’s take a look at the fundamental differences between leadership and management as they apply to organizational change.

The Principles Of Leading Change

Organizational transformation, regardless of how complex or significant, has to start at the top.

Defining And Articulating The Vision

I have identified six principles for communicating a powerful change vision, which include: keeping the messaging simple and authentic, utilizing multiple channels, being repetitive, ensuring behaviors are consistent with the vision, and gathering feedback along the way.

The vision is what the team can connect with. Visualization of that winning result helps everyone develop a shared sense of purpose and get behind the actions — and even sacrifices — that will be needed to succeed.

Aligning The Team With The Vision

Getting the team aligned with the vision starts with spending the appropriate time and energy developing the right vision. Not just change for the sake of change but true transformative actions that will improve the company and add value to the customers, employees and shareholders.

Alignment starts at the top. Senior leaders must first make sure they are truly aligned so that their communications and behaviors are authentic and truly embody the vision for change — the old lead-by-example model. Seems simple, but companies get this wrong all the time. The leaders must first believe in the mission before the front-line troops can connect with the cause.

Keeping The Team Motivated And Inspired

Organizational transformations can take a long time. One of the core roles of leaders is to establish and plan for quick wins, which will accomplish several things.

First, quick wins give the team something tangible that proves their sacrifices are driving the change initiatives forward.

Second, quick wins take the wind out of the sails of the naysayers — who can exist at any level of the company, from the board of directors to the front-line troops.

Third, quick wins keep the team motivated and inspired, which is great medicine for the battlefield fatigue they will experience during the transformation process.

The Principles Of Managing Change

Everything mentioned above is imperative to any successful transformation, but it can’t be accomplished without diligent management. It’s management’s role to put the plans into action and measure the progress from start to finish.

Putting The Mission Plan Into Action

As mentioned above, the transformation task force should include a combination of influential leaders and managers from various levels of the organization. And once they have the mission plan established, it’s largely the responsibility of management to establish the timelines and milestones needed to stay on track.

This is also where management steps in to make sure those quick wins collectively defined by the transformation task force actually happen.

Organizing, Budgeting, And Staffing

 A vision is only as good as the development of the new systems, processes and structures needed to support it. This is the painful — and often less exhilarating — part of the transformation process. Comfort zones are demolished and everyone is asked to learn the behaviors needed for the “new way of doing things.”

New budget plans must be developed and staffing requirements are usually affected by organizational change. The role of management is to work closely with the finance team to ensure that budgeting and staffing also fit within the parameters of the vision.

Maintaining Control And Navigating Obstacles

One of my favorite quotes that applies to both combat and business — especially during times of change — is: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” The original transformation plan will come into conflict and adjustments will need to be made.

Management must foresee these needs and act accordingly, while the leadership team continues to communicate the ultimate vision and what winning is going to look like.

The Power Of Great Leadership And Management Combined

When a company has great visionary leadership but poor management capability, the transformation will only get so far. When the opposite is true, the vision will not be powerful, or even worse, will be totally flawed. Or it will never develop in the first place. With great leadership but marginal management, the change effort can make some significant gains but will eventually slow. Where the magic happens is when great leadership intersects with solid management. Change is messy and it’s never perfect. It usually takes longer and has a greater cost–hard and soft–than is originally anticipated. But with visionary leaders who have the best interests of the company and its culture in mind, supported by great management throughout the company, winning results are likely to happen.

Brent Gleeson is a Navy SEAL, speaker and leadership consultant. Follow Brent on Twitter at @BrentGleeson or view his website.

The Fundamental Differences Between Leadership And Management

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Moving Abroad? 7 Steps to Global Success for You and Your Business

Moving Abroad? 7 Steps to Global Success for You and Your Business

For many, living a life abroad would be a dream come true. For growing businesses, however, expanding globally is often a necessity. As an entrepreneur, the opportunity to do either — let alone both — means you’ve probably done more than a few things right.

But before you pack your bags, going global, like growing any business, includes new challenges. It requires foresight, adaptability and specialists to find success for your portfolio as well as your business. That’s why we spoke to experts in commercial banking and wealth management at Bank of the West, who, as a part of BNP Paribas, provide a perspective on global banking that stretches from the U.S. to Europe to Asia and South America.

Here, their specialists offer tips on making your transition a successful one.

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Assessing the Opportunity

As an entrepreneur, determine whether expanding abroad is right for you.

Take into account objectives and determine if customers and partners are available abroad to execute them, says Nathalie Doré, CEO at L’Atelier BNP Paribas North America.

“It’s very important to adapt your market strategy and to think about doing open innovation,” she says, noting that local partners can both minimize risk and maximize rewards. “We advise testing launch initiatives. You can have very quick validation on your business model in real life and, if it works, initial revenue.”

It’s also important to evaluate the future of your target region’s economic climate both from a business and investment standpoint. For example, “knowing that Europe is earlier on in their business recovery, whereas the U.S. market is in more of a mature stage … can mean that 2 percent GDP growth is not always better than 1 percent,” says Wade Balliet, Chief Investment Strategist at Bank of the West.

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Preparing to Make the Move

You’ve considered your business and personal finances goals and you’re ready to go global. But what’s next? According to Kristin Nelson, Bank of the West’s Wealth Management Head of Sales Strategy and Business Development, get expert help from someone with international experience that also understands what you’ve already built at home.

“The more groundwork you can do upfront and the more you can work with an international bank who has connections to get you set up from a financial standpoint beforehand, the better,” she says.

This goes from simple things, such as setting up a bank account, to the advanced, like being introduced to a sophisticated professional network.

“The local teams will often times make in-country introductions to experienced professionals to assist our clients,” says John Thurston, Managing Director and Area Manager at Bank of the West. “Through those referrals, our clients expand their networks to address potential legal, financial and regulatory concerns.”

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Setting Up Your Financial Future

With your bases covered, it’s time to plan for your future. For many entrepreneurs, that means diversifying their personal and professional portfolios to address new exposure from their expansion abroad.

Balliet says that limiting exposure in your personal portfolio often means investing outside the country to which you’re moving. For example, if you move your business to Paris, you might think about putting more of your money outside of Europe in order to achieve greater global diversification. “In that case, we (make sure) their European exposure is not increasing but maybe reducing to some extent because of their new business venture, and then managing around that with the other international capabilities: Asia, Japan and the emerging markets, for example.

“We have the ability to tactically overweight and underweight investment exposure to a country or a set of countries.”

Gaining Fluency in Culture and Currency

As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” — this is especially true when it comes to business. For investors entering a new market, unique culture, rules and regulations can cause serious headaches for entrepreneurs.

The most challenging aspect is often the foundation of commerce itself. It’s essential that investors have a basic understanding of different currencies in order to trade effectively. Whereas in the U.S., investors generally focus on the security itself, trading internationally involves other factors such as currency fluctuation and geopolitical considerations.

These kinds of local challenges can also affect how day-to-day transactions are handled between countries. Entrepreneurs and investors are often uncomfortable when they discover how alien basic operations in a new country can seem, according to Head of Cash Management and Commercial Card at Bank of the West Eileen Dignen.

“Clients working in certain markets tell me, ‘I’m surprised that everything isn’t instantaneous, I’m surprised that formatting is different.’ But there is no cross-border, instantaneous, real-time dollar flow and settlement that happens today without complexity,” she says. “Having a partner that knows you and can help navigate that complexity is key.”

Don’t Forget to Look at the Whole Picture

Scaling your business and portfolio globally gets complicated. That’s why keeping a singular view of all aspects of your finances is essential.

“The key is somebody has to see the global view of the portfolio,” says Balliet. “Two or three managers looking independently may be well and good on their own, but what about the overall risk of those three managers when melded together?”

For an entrepreneur, a bank with a global presence can help solve many of these problems. Companies frequently contract with more partners than they need to, according to Thurston.

“To meet specific in-country needs, many multinational companies will approach a number of different banks. However, this can result in cumbersome banking arrangements and inconsistent handling of the clients’ needs,” he says. “Instead of having six different banks to handle needs in six different countries, the client’s needs could be met more effectively with a single international network such as BNP Paribas and Bank of the West where we strive to deliver the international network locally as a single client relationship. That translates into better consistency in the products and services provided to our clients, as well as a more efficient and cost effective approach to their banking needs.”

Use the Right Set of Tools

Maintaining that global view doesn’t just happen. Entrepreneurs and their CFOs need tools that can give them the financial information they need when- and wherever they are.

“As the CFO, it’s really about understanding and having visibility into cash flows and the supply chain as they expand abroad,” says Martin Resch, Executive Vice President of Bank of the West. “Without that visibility into how the cash is moving, where it is and what currency it’s at, CFOs don’t really have visibility into their business.”

To provide this information, a modular platform that’s responsive enough to respond to the continual demands of an international CFO is ideal.

“When there’s a change in foreign currency markets, you want to make sure your foreign currency app is changing really fast, but your supply chain app may only need to change once every two years,” says Resch. “Having that separated into tactile apps that allow you to do businesses, instead of one big app, allows us to be more nimble.”

Look Ahead to Stay Secure

But no matter how advanced a company’s technology is, remaining secure means being one step ahead at all times, especially when you’re moving to an unfamiliar business landscape.

“As we say in the banking industry, we figure out how to deal with the fraudsters and then they’re figuring out the next step. We have to keep up with that pace of change,” says Dignen.

For the tech sector, where companies tend to expand internationally more quickly than other industries, it’s essential to provide robust safeguards that protect intellectual property, client information, payment details and more, says Lee Merkle-Raymond, Managing Director, National Technology Banking Head at Bank of the West.

“All of those we try to mitigate in the U.S. but when you’re working internationally you need higher levels of security — you’ve got multiple banking systems, multiple payment systems in different countries,” she says. One way to stay secure is to impose automated safeguards that may limit the size of transactions or provide extra layers of authorization if a payment is headed to a particular international destination.

That forward looking approach also spreads to how entrepreneurs should interact with their bank to begin with, working together to be at the cutting edge of all aspects of business, according to Doré from L’Atelier BNP Paribas North America.

“The pace of change is so fast today,” she says. “That’s why we like to be able to iterate. What should we launch today? It’s really about adapting because we are living in a world that is changing so fast.”

Moving Abroad? 7 Steps to Global Success for You and Your Business

The Best Companies Invest Aggressively in These 3 Areas

The Best Companies Invest Aggressively in These 3 Areas

When it comes to investments, here’s a general truth: the larger a company gets, the smaller it thinks. The process is insidious, and companies must always be on the lookout for signs that it is setting in. If you want your business to grow sustainably at scale, you need to figure out how to make big investments that will best differentiate you in your core.

We were reminded of this a few years ago, when we studied a major European conglomerate with more than 50 distinct businesses spread across dozens of markets. The company had experienced no organic growth in over a decade, the stock price had melted away and it was seeking growth in all the wrong places. We soon figured out why.

First, the growth of most of its acquisitions had actually slowed after being acquired—the opposite of the justification for their purchase. Second, the company’s capital was spread uniformly across an extraordinary range of business types and competitive positions. The company was making big bets on its acquisitions, but it had many companies in the family and treated them all equally. It invested in its bad businesses hoping that they would become more like the good ones, and it didn’t invest massively in the good ones, because they were doing fine.

The result? Consistent mediocrity.

The best companies—those that grow sustainably and profitably at scale—reject that kind of “peanut butter” approach of spreading resources around as evenly as possible. Instead they’re “spiky” in how they allocate funds and they invest big in three areas: game-changing capabilities, next-generation leaders, and next generation business models:

They use the power of 10X—a willingness to commit 10 times the normal resources—on their critical capabilities. Amazon, for example, has learned that same-day delivery could increase revenues significantly, and it is also aware that new insurgent start-ups such as Instacart and WunWun are focusing on the instant delivery of certain products, so it has invested in its own delivery fleet, drone technology and more.

Mukesh Ambani, the wealthiest man in India, thinks the same way—and in doing so, he has made Reliance Industries, a Mumbai-based industrial giant, the most valuable company in his country. In 2000, Ambani thought big about critical capabilities for the future core of his business and built an integrated petrochemical complex designed to serve a full 25% of the giant Indian market, with technology and scale that gave it a 30% cost advantage over his regional competitors. Most companies would have backed off from such an investment.

The bottom line: Great leaders fight entropy and are willing to step up to a 10X decision to invest in game-changing capabilities.

They invest massively in next-generation leaders. That’s one of the great secrets to the success of AB InBev, the world’s largest beer company. “Talent management is easily over a third of all executive time when you count it all,” one long-standing company employee told us about how the company is run. “It is big.” He went on to describe talent management as especially important because of the uncommonly large jobs and aggressive targets that AB InBev gives its employees very early in their careers. “The first time you come in,” he said, “you get a hugely difficult target, and we watch for the reaction. You get lots of coaching and guidance, but if you don’t embrace challenge, that is a sign. The key element in all of this is how to apply the meritocracy. Everyone talks about it, but our whole system is built on meritocracy. It is why our investment in young talent is so high.”

Olam International, an enormously successful agribusiness, has leveraged the power of this approach to great effect. Sunny Verghese, the company’s CEO and cofounder, directly involves himself in all promotions of his top 800 employees, each of whom he knows by name and has an opinion about. Until recently, he insisted on interviewing all hires from the outside—in a company of 23,000 people.

We could go on. But instead we’ll just make a simple observation: Great leaders invest a huge amount of their time in recruiting, mentoring, promoting and trying to retain the best people. They recognize that aggressive meritocracy is the best way to grow sustainably. Whenever possible, they even work to generate mini-founder opportunities within their companies, to foster responsibility and leadership experiences for their most talented people. We have never met great leaders who feel they have overinvested in talent.

They invest in their next-generation business model and in the specific capabilities that will differentiate it. That’s what Sunny Verghese has done with Olam. From its modest beginnings in 1989, the company has expanded to 45 commodities in 65 countries, reaching a level of $13.6 billion in annual revenues and more than $650 million in profits. The company’s success has made it one of the best-performing IPOs in Asia in the last decade. The company’s performance is all the more amazing given the low growth of its markets, the practical challenges of building secure supply chains in places like Nigeria and the inherent complexity of the business.

How did Verghese do it? He recognized an opportunity and invested big in the capabilities that would allow him to seize it. Before Olam, the typical cashew farmer would sell his crop to a local intermediary, who would then sell the shipment to a distributor, who would then hire someone else to transport the product to warehouses where large global companies would collect it. No one “owned” the full supply chain, and as a result it was leaky, unreliable, hard to trace and rife with corruption. Farmers received only a tiny fraction of what they were entitled to.

Verghese and his team believed that they could differentiate the company to global customers like Nestlé by focusing on the end-to-end supply chain, with the goal of managing the whole thing themselves. So they went after that goal, investing in a big way, and today they have the only supply chain in their key markets that is completely controlled from the farm gate to the end user.

Examples like the ones above show that companies can and should continue to “think big” even as they grow. These are hard decisions for leaders to make, but the great ones overinvest on the few critical capabilities and assets that will drive the future business and resist the temptation to treat all their businesses the same.

The Best Companies Invest Aggressively in These 3 Areas

How the CFO and General Counsel Can Partner More Effectively

How the CFO and General Counsel Can Partner More Effectively

Commentators and researchers have focused on the crucial role of the CEO in leading effective corporate action to promote high performance, high integrity, and sound risk management. What receives far less attention is that, more and more in our increasingly complex, volatile, and fully-globalized business world, the effectiveness of such action depends on a powerful partnership between the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the General Counsel (GC). This critical alliance needs and deserves much greater analysis and application.

The CFO-GC alliance has always been important because the finance function and the legal function are truly the nervous system of the corporation—sending critical signals to all parts of the company about the accuracy of the financials and compliance with law. But, the integration of finance and legal is even more consequential today because what the corporation can and cannot do across the globe is affected directly not just by financial and commercial issues which the CFO analyzes but, increasingly, by evolving “business and society” issues which the General Counsel and the corporate law department must address. These issues include legislation, regulation, litigation, enforcement, investigations, geopolitical risk, demands for ethical actions, and public criticism, affecting all the functions of the corporation in their interaction with all levels of global governments (central, regional, local). Especially in light of ever-increasing variety and intensity of stakeholder demands on the corporation, these business and society issues, under the purview of the GC, must be closely fused with the CFO’s financial and commercial analysis to serve the CEO and top business leaders when they make and implement core strategic and operational decisions.

Indeed, due to increased commercial complexity in global companies as well as the growing impact of business and society issues, the expertise, quality, breadth, power, and compensation of the General Counsel have increased dramatically in recent decades. At many firms, the GC has replaced the law firm senior partner as primary CEO counselor, becoming a core member of top management and participating in decisions and actions not just about law but also about business. Also, the GC now often leads units beyond the legal department, such as public affairs, taxes, and environment. In more and more global companies, the CEO, directors and other key stakeholders see the GC as having importance and stature comparable to the Chief Financial Officer. It is primarily the GC who must navigate complex and fast-changing law, regulation, litigation, public policy, politics, media and interest group pressures across the globe, often in a public, outward-facing role as negotiator, spokesman or representative. As a result, the optimal CFO-GC alliance is now much more like a peer relationship, jointly coordinating and overseeing fundamental corporate issues of performance, compliance, ethics, risk and governance, and organization. Here is a brief discussion of how the alliance works in key areas:

Performance. Financial, legal, ethical and risk perspectives obviously need to be integrated when the corporation is making decisions about new deals, about new types of customers, new geographic markets, new technologies and new products. For example, the financial and legal staffs are bound at the hip on the various phases of mergers and acquisitions, from the memorandum of understanding, to representations and warranties, to due diligence, to definitive agreement, to closing and then to deal integration. On major deals, the GC and CFO are strong partners on a personal level because the robust integration of their complementary views on key issues can spell the difference between success and failure, both in closing and in subsequent performance. For example, failure to identify a serious accounting or environmental failure of the target company in due diligence can lead to a major criminal or civil liability for the acquiring company after the deal is sealed.

Compliance. Although the CEO and division heads should, in my view, be the ultimate leaders of the corporate compliance program, the CFO and GC jointly share responsibility for actually designing and implementing the systems and processes that ensure adherence to formal legal and financial rules. Compliance always has been and always will be a basic corporate responsibility, and any such program must be comprised of three essential elements: protection, detection, and response. What’s radically changed in recent years is complexity. Responding effectively to this means the CFO and GC, working with Compliance and Risk, together develop a robust method of process mapping, risk assessment, and risk mitigation relating to those formal rules that apply to all corporate functions—e.g. sales, marketing, manufacturing, intellectual property—in all business units in all geographies. Ideally, the legal and financial staffs together conduct compliance reviews which report up to the CEO, CFO, and GC, and also act as core investigators in the event of a major compliance failure like bribery or accounting fraud in a major overseas division.

Ethics. In exemplary corporations, the CFO and GC jointly staff the systematic processes the CEO and top business leaders use in voluntarily adopting vital global standards for the corporation, which go beyond what the formal rules require. Once the company establishes these ethical positions on key issues—whether on global sourcing or greenhouse gas reduction, or extra consumer protections—they are implemented systematically just like formal, mandated rules. In my experience at GE, what worked best is to have the CFO and GC jointly identify a range of possible ethical issues for consideration; help select a salient sub-set for analysis; and then develop options to guide the ultimate decision-making process by the CEO and the board of directors. Deciding among those options involves a combination of considerations both prudential (enlightened self-interest of the company) and moral (rights of—duties to—others) which vary with context. Decisions about not doing business in a corrupt nation are very different than those considering whether to voluntarily reduce the corporation’s emission of greenhouse gases. And then, of course, there are costs. The CFO and GC determine together whether the cost of a particular voluntary global standard is amenable to hard financial analysis (e.g. cost of reducing pollution) or if it turns on a broad-gauged judgment about corporate reputation without financial precision (benefits of imposing labor standards on third party suppliers).

Risk. The CFO and GC are key in developing together, with business leaders and other staff officers, safety processes, management practices, and a safety culture to handle both economic and non-economic risks beyond legal and ethical threats. One key to this partnership is identifying risk priorities—whether economic (e.g. leverage and liquidity risk, operational and technology missteps, or macroeconomic threats) or non-economic (e.g. injuries to third parties from company processes/products, security and safety, and country/geopolitical risk). A second key dimension is justifying the costs of instituting prevention and response steps for risk events that may not happen—especially for the vexing issue of low probability/high impact catastrophic threats. The CFO and GC can work up pro forma cost scenarios and also look to analogous disasters (e.g. the Challenger explosion, Hurricane Katrina, the Siemens bribery scandal, BP gulf explosion) to explain the types of adverse effects/costs which could happen and which investments in prevention and response make sense in attempting to avoid or mitigate the disaster.

Finally, and most importantly, the CFO and GC must support each other as “statespersons” in a corporation. This means asking first whether a corporate action complies with legal and financial rules, but asking last whether an action is “right” in terms of the corporation’s mission of high performance with high integrity and sound risk management. To be effective statespersons, the CFO and GC must manage a dynamic tension: acting as “partners” to the board of directors, the CEO and top business leaders, but also, ultimately, as “guardians” of the corporation. And they must work together to help create a pervasive culture of integrity under CEO direction. Business pressures, practices, attitudes, and internal politics (a courtier’s desire to please the CEO) can create obstacles to the statesperson’s role, the partner-guardian fusion, and the integrity culture.

A strong, respectful, mutually-supportive partnership between the Chief Financial Officer and the General Counsel is one critical way to overcome these obstacles. More broadly, that alliance has become an imperative, helping global corporations to be more responsive, resilient, and effective in a fast-changing and ever more complicated world where commercial and societal issues are intertwined.

How the CFO and General Counsel Can Partner More Effectively

To Find a CFO, Many Firms Turn to Their Own Board Members

To Find a CFO, Many Firms Turn to Their Own Board Members

Directors recruited for executive jobs say such moves remain rare, but perhaps shouldn’t be, amid the need for financial expertise.

Erstwhile Crocs Inc. CFO Jeffrey Lasher began looking for a new job when the company placed Carrie Teffner, a well regarded former finance chief, on its board of directors in June.

Earlier this month the Colorado footwear maker named Ms. Teffner, former CFO for PetSmart Inc., as its next finance chief. Crocs said in September that Mr. Lasher would join boating-equipment retailer West Marine Inc. this month.

He said he didn’t know if his CFO position at Crocs was actually in jeopardy, but “there was a threat from Carrie, perceived or true,” based on her experience. “She’s an exceptionally strong executive,” he added.

The situation highlights how recruiting top-notch financial talent can be a tricky business, especially when the logical successor is a board member. Sarbanes-Oxley regulations have led to more CFOs on boards. Now some of those companies are tapping directors to fill executive positions.

Ms. Teffner and a Crocs spokesman both declined to comment before she officially assumes the CFO role in December.

Executives who have made the jump from a board they served on say such a move remains rare, but perhaps shouldn’t be, as the need for high-level financial expertise grows.

“Sarbanes Oxley was ‘The Employment Act for CFOs,’ ” said Steve Vintz, referring to new laws opening up opportunities for top financial talent to join external boards. Mr. Vintz is CFO of Tenable Network Security Inc., a closely held cybersecurity firm based in Maryland.

Companies are increasingly looking for directors who could become executives if need be, said Peter Crist, chairman of recruiting firm Crist|Kolder Associates. Shifting a former CFO from the board to management is “an easy play,” he said, and he’s fielding more requests for recently retired CFOs to become directors.

While that works on “a number of levels,” Mr. Vintz said that being a CFO is “an all-consuming process” that might make him shy away from a board role that effectively put him on the bench.

Appointing a new chief executive from the board is more common. DuPont Co. recently named board member Edward Breen as its permanent head, after tapping him as interim CEO last month. Mr. Breen was previously CEO of Tyco International PLC.

Naming someone from the board as an executive, even if it is a perfect fit, can suggest a company’s internal bench of potential candidates is too thin. More than three-fourths of CFOs surveyed last year by management consultancy Robert Half said they didn’t have a successor in mind.

Asset-management company Legal & General Investment Management America Inc. didn’t have the bench to pick a leader internally, said CEO Robert Moore, who served on the company’s board for seven years before being asked to take over in March.

Mr. Moore was CFO at another company and said he wasn’t thinking about moving, but as the board was trying to identify a successor, the chairman asked, “Should we have that conversation [about] having you as a candidate?” he recalled.

The decision to turn to board members also hinges on whether a former CFO wants to get back into the game. “If that person was from the industry and has been retired,” the move might seem smart, according to James Drury IV, a consultant with board recruiter James Drury Partners. He said more companies “than normal” are turning to directors for top positions.

That is “indicative of the importance of CFOs” and other executives like chief information officers who were previously seen as “data geeks,” said Barbara Gomolski, a managing vice president at technology consulting firm Gartner Inc.
But some say the practice might never become a trend, because it could curb a company’s willingness to let their CFOs serve on an external board, often seen as a path to gain more experience in preparation for a bigger role, Mr. Drury said.

But Mr. Moore at Legal & General claims that move could backfire. “A truly talented person will never want to be artificially held back,” and those that do are likely to see it as a company effort to “avoid their destiny.”

Saul Reibstein, CFO of Pennsylvania-based casino operator Penn National Gaming Inc., said his transition from the board to the C-suite was different than most, because he was its external audit partner more than 20 years ago.

He was asked to take the CFO seat in 2013, after serving the board since 2011.

“Your relationship changes with both the management team and your former board colleagues,” he said. While he called the move “unusual,” he also wondered why it doesn’t happen more often, not just in finance but with legal and human-resources and other executives.

“If I’m the CEO or chairman of the board, where I’ve established a relationship” with a good CFO on the board, he said, “I’m going to explore that opportunity.”

To Find a CFO, Many Firms Turn to Their Own Board Members

America’s 10 Best Corporate Citizens In 2014

America's 10 Best Corporate Citizens In 2014 - In Photos: America’s 10 Best Corporate Citizens In 2014 - Forbes

America's 10 Best Corporate Citizens In 2014 - In Photos: America’s 10 Best Corporate Citizens In 2014 - Forbes

America's 10 Best Corporate Citizens In 2014 - In Photos: America’s 10 Best Corporate Citizens In 2014 - Forbes

America’s 10 Best Corporate Citizens In 2014 – In Photos: America’s 10 Best Corporate Citizens In 2014 – Forbes.

 

Entrepreneur’s Top Brands of 2014: Learn Their Secrets

Introducing Entrepreneur’s Top Brands of 2014: Learn Their Secrets | Entrepreneur.com.

 

The Path to Peak Performance

The Path to Peak Performance – YouTube.