Desire to learn, interpersonal skills most coveted traits according to CFOs

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According to a new survey from Accountemps, 30 percent of surveyed CFOs cited a motivation to learn new skills as the most necessary trait for professionals to succeed in today's business landscape. Interpersonal skills (27 percent) and the ability to "adapt easily to change" (24 percent) followed closely behind.

Notably, the 2016 results have changed since a similar 2002 study, which saw CFOs citing "adapt[ing] easily to change" as the most important trait for professionals.

"Successful people never stop learning," said Bill Driscoll, a district president for Accountemps, in a statement. "The world is changing quickly and constantly, and it's vital to stay informed of the latest trends and sought-after skills in your industry. The ability to convey complex information clearly and succinctly can lead to advancement opportunities."

A scant seven percent of CFOs cited working long hours as a successful trait. "Putting in extra time at work doesn't necessarily lead to positive outcomes," Driscoll commented. "Managers can help reinforce reasonable work hours by prioritizing projects, assigning realistic deadlines, bringing in temporary support and setting a good example themselves."  

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

CFOs were asked, "Which one of the following characteristics do you consider most necessary for an employee to succeed?" Their responses are as follows:





Motivated to learn new skills



Strong interpersonal skills



Adapts easily to change



Welcomes increased responsibility



Willing to work long hours



Don't know/no answer






*Responses not equal 100 percent due to rounding.

Accountemps offers the following tips for advancing one's career:

  • Join industry associations. Often, these groups offer training courses and seminars to help you acquire new skills and keep informed of trends affecting your industry or profession.
  • Volunteer your expertise. Nonprofits can benefit from your guidance, and you may be given opportunities to grow and learn in return. 
  • Further your education. An advanced degree or certification in your industry demonstrates your desire to learn and reinforces your expertise in your field.
  • Perfect your communication skills. Pay attention to details when you communicate. Observe your body language, make eye contact, listen fully to what the other person has to say and rehearse before communicating to important audiences. Professional organizations like Toastmasters provide myriad resources to improve your public speaking skills.
  • Think about the big picture. The most effective leaders always keep long-term plans in mind. Adopting a similar mindset can help you make more strategic decisions and better position yourself for a promotion.

For more on Accountemps, head to their site here.

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