People skills important for all employees

It's often easy to assume that certain professionals don't necessarily need to have an extensive set of soft skills, such as communication and empathy. Whether it's because the job entails limited interaction with others or a strong technical emphasis, these professionals may have an illusion that the thrust of their work is simply to get the job done.

However, the results from a new survey suggest that this ideology is shifting. Professionals from practically any discipline – even those in jobs that deal strictly with numbers, such as CFOs – need to make sure they hone their people skills.

In producing their 'DNA of a CFO' report, Hays Accountancy and Finance surveyed 500 CFOs and found that today's finance professionals will do well to ensure their leadership development involves a strong people focus.

Although the survey revealed that almost two thirds (64 per cent) of respondents believe commercial acumen is the most important skill for CFOs, people management claimed second place, garnering 57 per cent of votes.

These results highlight the importance of CFOs to take on a leadership capacity and ensure they can work well with diverse sets of people. The requirement for CFOs to translate their often complex findings and convey them in an accessible manager to a wide range of stakeholders also means this is a crucial skill to have.

Lynne Roeder, regional director of Hays Accountancy and Finance, said CFOs needed to make this a serious consideration when seeking new work.

“Compared to 15 to 20 years ago, people skills and general management capabilities are a much bigger part of the selection process,” she said.

“CFOs are certainly no longer hired purely for their abilities with numbers and analytics – although of course this has to be an underlying technical strength – but added to the classic skills mix is an increasing requirement for a whole range of different competencies.”