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Five Books Every CFO Should Read This Year

It may be hard to believe, but January is almost over. That’s right, we’re almost one full month in to 2018. Which means it’s time for the hard question:

How many of your New Year’s resolutions have you already broken?

Don’t worry, it’ll stay just between us. But if your resolution involved expanding your thought leadership, improving your leadership and management skills, or just reading more, I have a few suggestions that will help you ensure you keep that resolution.

Here are five books every CFO should read to broaden their horizons and become better finance leaders—and better business leaders.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t
By Jim Collins

Are you doing everything you can to help your organization succeed? For a CFO, your role in the business’s growth and ongoing success can sometimes be a little unclear. Many CEOs look to their CFO strictly for numbers and a yes or no answer. This book—which analyzes a study of several companies and compares them to learn why some grew beyond their initial roots, and other stayed stagnant—will provide you with lessons to help you become a better partner and trusted strategic advisor to your CEO.

The New CFO Financial Leadership Manual
By Steven M. Bragg

This one is in depth and definitely not an overnight read (about 500 pages). But it’s unique in that it takes some of the best senior management lessons and re-centers them on the role of the CFO. It’ll help you provide stronger guidance to the financial professionals that report to you, and help you become a better partner to your CEO and your C-team.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
By Patrick Lencioni

As a C-level executive, you’re part of a team with a huge responsibility: Deciding on the direction of your organization and then ensuring the organization stays on track. But communication at the executive level is often shockingly bad. Because even senior leaders have personal agendas, and conflicting loyalties to their teams and departments, all of which erode the effectiveness of the team. This book—good for a plane ride or rainy day at the cottage—illustrates how these conflicts an impact an organization and provides a template for avoiding these pitfalls going forward.

In Speed We Trust
By Stephen M.R. Covey

You know Stephen R. Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (which you should also read, if you haven’t yet); Stephen M.R. Covey is his son, and is clearly following in his father’s footsteps with business leadership writing. This book is all about the importance of trust, and how to earn it and inspire it. Covey uses personal anecdotes to demonstrate how transparency, respect, and holding yourself accountable will earn the trust of others and allow you to become a better mentor and leader. It’s simply chock full of good advice for both new and experienced business leaders.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0
By Travis Bradberry

In finance, numbers are king. We like our hard data, nicely laid out in spreadsheets, and we like to make informed decisions based on that data. But, when it comes to dealing with people, which is a critical part of being in the C-suite, numbers don’t tell the full story. We need empathy and emotional intelligence to relate and build relationships with our direct reports and our teams. This book offers some well-thought our strategies to help improve your self-awareness and social awareness and respond and react to others on a very human level.

Now, I won’t lie to you and say these books are all easy reads. But the good news is they’re also not the type of book you need to read cover to cover. You can pick them up anytime and read 20 pages and learn something different each time.

Give them a shot and I think you’ll find your horizons expanded!

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