This type of situation is nothing unusual for every CFO around the globe. Our role has ­morphed into a whole new set of requirements compared to 50 years ago. I’ve had to face a lot of change in my own role as CFO, and I’ve come to realize that it’s important for every effective CFO to possess three characteristics during changing times.

The first one is competency. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, people won’t follow you. You must have those critical decision-making and technical skills that every effective CFO possesses. The CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification is chock full of this knowledge! It definitely gave me confidence that I had the competence to lead my company through changing times. And with more than 46,000 CMA credentials issued, certified members all over the world have echoed this opinion.

The second attribute is composure. Change comes in all forms. It can happen abruptly and in different doses. It’s what we do during these times that defines us as leaders. I like to think of the CFO as a company’s thermometer. If the CFO is panicked, many of the other senior leaders will be as well. Volunteering in IMA leadership positions–in chapters, on councils, and on various local and global committees—can help you develop this skill of composure.

Third, and most important, you need courage. Courage to do the ethical thing. Courage to make a decision that may not be popular but that you know is right for your organization and its resources. There really is no one way to train for this; it just comes with overall leadership training and experience. IMA’s Leadership Academy does a great job of supplying monthly webinars that offer training on various types of leadership skills that can help you build the courage to do the right thing at the right time. And the Leadership column in Strategic Finance also gives you advice on how to develop your leadership skills.

The road to becoming a CFO isn’t easy, and it’s even more difficult to be successful once you get there. But with IMA’s tools, you can be confident that we will be there to ­support you during this journey.

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