CFO GUEST: Brian Gladden of Zelis
Machine Generated Transcript:
CFOTL: When you look back on your career, can you share with our audience a moment of insight you experienced as a finance leader?
Gladden: I’ll talk in general and then maybe offer a couple examples. I mean, I find as I’ve done this for a long time, Jack, I mean, the toughest part of being a CFO is trying to find middle ground as a partner to the CEO and to the board and play that role. You have to be tough and drive the business to deliver on expectations, holding the team accountable for meeting commitments. And sometimes you really have to be the tough guy that beats people up and makes for some tough conversations. That’s part of your job.Read More
The other part is that you want to be seen as a partner and you want to have a relationship that’s collaborative with your peers and the staff. You want to be one of the gang and you want to have a relationship that they’ll confide in you, they’ll ask for help and see you as a real partner. So that’s the real. I’ve gotten myself stuck in between that. And sometimes if the business requires it, you’re the tough person for a long time and you forget about the other side. So I think that’s the hardest thing that we do, is developing that skill. And I find myself having to think about that a lot.
And then also as I develop the next generation, teaching them about this, how do you do this? How do you make it work? How do you play that tough role? And you have to adapt your style with each leader and figure out what makes them tick and learn how to understand their personality. And you can be friendly with them and help them. But then when it comes time to deliver a tough message, you do that. So, as I’ve stepped into some roles, I mean, you get backwards and sideways and you struggle how to do that, and you find yourself being super tough, especially when times are tough and you’re trying to deliver results and your business is struggling.
So that’s, for me, I think, the biggest sort of aha learning of a career of doing this is that you really do have to perfect that skill and you have to become almost a little bit of an executive coach and build a mental model for how you’re going to fit in.
I’ve gotten myself stuck into some situations where I’ve been much too difficult and nobody wants to deal with me, and I’m not invited to any meetings anymore, and they see me as just someone who’s too demanding. And then at other times, I’ve gotten myself to the point where we’re building these great relationships, but I forget we’ve got to deliver. So that’s a little bit of the awkward times that, especially as I’ve stepped into new jobs and tried to build those relationships, it’s tough to strike that balance.
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