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A strong moral compass can give high-potential managers a leg up the career ladder, according to the results of a recent survey.
One-third of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said that, other than technical or functional expertise, integrity is what they look for most when grooming future leaders. Interpersonal and communication skills also ranked high, cited by 28 percent of respondents.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, a provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis. The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.
CFOs were asked, “Other than technical or functional expertise, which one of the following traits do you look for most when grooming future leaders at your organization?”
• Integrity – 33%
• Interpersonal/communication skills – 28%
• Initiative – 15%
• Ability to motivate others – 12%
• Business savvy – 10%
• Other/don’t know – 2%
“History has shown time and time again the importance of ethics in business – even a single lapse in judgment by one employee can significantly affect a company’s reputation and its bottom line,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “Leaders who are principled and forthright inspire this same behavior in their teams, creating a culture in which integrity is a core value.”
McDonald pointed out that communication skills also are requisite as executives take on greater responsibility.
“Especially during difficult periods, managers must be able to promote open, two-way communication with their teams,” McDonald said. “Executives in companies that have moved successfully through the downturn understand the importance of listening intently to feedback from employees and are always on the lookout for this skill in potential leaders.”