CFO Intelligence Magazine – Spring/Summer 2024

Shannon O’ Connor Bock

President, A.J. O’Connor Associates

In the dynamic world of finance, numbers reign supreme, and the stewards of an organization’s fiscal well-being are the Chief Financial Officers. CFOs are known for their analytical prowess, their ability to navigate complex financial landscapes, and their strategic approach to complex problem solving and planning. Yet, amidst the sea of balance sheets, there exists an often-overlooked leadership characteristic that can profoundly impact the bottom line: Emotional Intelligence.


There are four core components of EI; let us have a closer look at each of them:

  • Self-awareness: Self-awareness is at the core of EI. The ability to understand one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and how they impact decision-making, has a profound impact on relationships and performance.
  • Self-management: Self-management is the ability to manage your emotions, particularly in stressful situations, and maintain a positive outlook despite setbacks. Leaders who lack self-management tend to react [instead of anticipating] and have a harder time keeping their impulses in check. This can lead to tension in the workplace and a breakdown in trust and collaboration.
  • Social awareness: Social awareness describes your ability to recognize others’ emotions and the dynamics in play within your organization. Leaders who excel in social awareness practice empathy. Global leadership development firm DDI ranks empathy as the number one leadership skill, reporting that leaders who master empathy perform more than 40% higher in coaching, engaging others, and decision-making.
  • Relationship management: Relationship management is your ability to influence, coach, and mentor others, and resolve conflict effectively and respectfully. In a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 72% of employees ranked respectful treatment of all employees at all levels as the top factor in job satisfaction. When you deploy these skills, your team will notice.