The Role of Finance in Driving Performance: Why Being the Co-Pilot Matters

Finance Don’t Drive Performance

In the world of business, discussions about driving performance have become ubiquitous. However, it’s time to reconsider the language we use and shift our perspective. While it may sound appealing to claim that finance drives performance, the reality is quite different. Sales, marketing, and operations are the driving forces behind performance. Finance’s role is to support and enable these functions, acting as the co-pilot rather than the driver. By understanding and embracing this distinction, finance professionals can increase their influence and make a significant impact on their company’s performance.


Finance’s Supportive Role

It is crucial to acknowledge that finance plays a vital role in any organisation. While sales, marketing, and operations may be responsible for driving performance, finance offers the necessary support and expertise to help them achieve their goals. Finance professionals possess a unique set of skills that allow them to analyse data, provide insights, and make informed decisions. By partnering with sales, marketing, and operations, finance professionals can leverage their expertise to maximise the effectiveness of these functions.


The Pitfalls of Driving Performance

Attempting to drive performance as a finance professional can lead to unintended consequences. When finance professionals step into the driver’s seat, it often leads to frustration and resistance from sales, marketing, and operations. By trying to dictate what should be done, finance professionals risk alienating their colleagues and limiting their ability to influence. Instead of pushing their own agenda, finance professionals should focus on collaborating with other departments and working together to achieve shared goals.


The Co-Pilot Approach

In light of the challenges that come with driving performance, adopting the role of a co-pilot is a more effective approach. Just as a co-pilot assists the pilot in navigating and making informed decisions, finance professionals can provide valuable support and guidance to sales, marketing, and operations. By relinquishing the desire to be the driver and embracing the co-pilot role, finance professionals can build stronger relationships, foster collaboration, and increase their influence within the organisation.


Lessons Learned from Personal Experience

Having experienced the desire to drive performance firsthand, I understand the allure of wanting to take the wheel. However, after six months of frustration and resistance, I realised the value of being a co-pilot. It was only when I shifted my mindset and focused on running the business together with my colleagues in sales and marketing that my influence soared. This shift in approach allowed me to collaborate more effectively, provide valuable insights, and make a meaningful impact on the company’s performance.


Exploring Alternative Roles

For those finance professionals who yearn to be in the driver’s seat, it’s important to consider alternative career paths within sales, marketing, or operations. Finance skills translate well into these functions, and by transitioning into such roles, finance professionals can leverage their expertise while directly driving performance. However, it is crucial to recognise that even in these roles, the ability to drive performance is limited. Instead, the focus should be on helping customers achieve their goals over the long term, thereby influencing success.


The Power of Influence

Regardless of whether you work in finance, HR, sales, marketing, or operations, the true power lies in influence. Influencing others requires collaboration, empathy, and a deep understanding of the business. By embracing the co-pilot role, finance professionals can position themselves as trusted advisors, providing valuable insights and supporting the overall success of the organisation.


So What?

In the world of finance business partnering, it is crucial to reframe the conversation around driving performance. Instead of trying to assert control, finance professionals should focus on supporting and enabling sales, marketing, and operations. By acting as co-pilots, finance professionals can contribute their expertise, build strong relationships, and have a significant impact on their company’s performance.

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