By: Joan Elizabeth Gee, Vice President and Chair, Financial Leadership Practice

Today’s healthcare CFOs face sizeable challenges as they work toward helping their organizations become outcomes-based reimbursement systems driven by quality. In addition to driving data analysis, they’re expected to evaluate which services to keep and which to abandon. Today’s CFOs also play a critical role in identifying the right technological innovations that will be necessary moving forward. 

CFOs expect their voices to be heard at the executive table. They need to be aggressive in evaluating where to invest. They must ask if expenditures help the organization and move it toward its goals. As game changers, the skill sets and behavioral traits CFOs exhibit are vital to organizations. As retained search consultants, it’s our role to ensure that candidates we present for a position possess the functional experience, as well as match culturally with their potential employer. We also find ourselves in a position of offering career advice to those same candidates. How do we do this as objectively as possible?

Tyler & Company has been using the DiSC assessment system for more than 20 years. To our knowledge, we have the largest database of DiSC scores for healthcare executives (more than 5,100). DiSC has more than 30 years of proven reliability. It assists with performance and communication improvement, eases frustration and conflict, and develops effective managers and teams that accomplish organizational goals. 

We also use DiSC to help assess how candidates compare with other healthcare executives during the interview process. This allows us to identify (preplacement) which behavior traits are most likely to lead to a successful experience for the candidate and the healthcare organization.  

Our large database of completed assessments has given us the opportunity to glean clear behavior styles for various healthcare executive roles. The most recent executive group on which Tyler & Company has researched is the CFO. 

Segmenting only placed CFOs, we identified three main behavior patterns in which the majority of our alumni fell. With 44 percent of CFOs falling under the “Creative” pattern, it was by far the most common behavioral style. Tying for second place were the “Appraiser” pattern and the “Objective Thinker” pattern, each accounting for 11 percent of our CFO population. 

What does this mean? First, it’s helpful to know that DiSC provides a language for exploring behavioral issues across four primary dimensions: Dominance (D), Influence (i), Steadiness (S) and Conscientiousness (C). Within these primary dimensions are a variety of patterns such as the three named above. Let’s explore.

  • D | Dominant people are direct and decisive. Ds are strong-willed people who like challenges, taking action and getting results. The “Creative” pattern, where 44 percent of CFOs fell, is tucked under this D umbrella. 

  • i | influential people are optimistic and outgoing. ilike participating on teams and sharing ideas. Eleven percent of the CFOs we studied fell into the “Appraiser” pattern, which is part of this dimension. 

  • S| Steady people are sympathetic and cooperative. Ss are helpful people who like working behind the scenes. This was not a common dimension in our study. 

  • C | Conscientious people are concerned and correct. Cs are sticklers for quality and like planning ahead. The “Objective Thinker” pattern, which described 11 percent of our CFO sample, is part of this dimension. 

While there is no right or wrong behavior pattern, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a high number of successful CFOs with a dominant style. CFOs have a font-line seat in helping their hospitals and healthcare systems make required transformations. They are expected to lead discussions on the types of business collaborations to develop and how technology innovations must align with the organization’s objectives. This often requires a person who exhibits much foresight on projects that bring about change, has a drive for perfection and possesses considerable planning ability. Making daily decisions quickly, but taking time to carefully evaluate bigger, long-term decisions also are essential and come seemingly natural to a person in this behavioral dimension.

As an interesting comparison, our study of behavioral patterns of successful CEOs revealed that the most common patterns fell into the dominant dimension as well. So for those CFOs who aspire to become CEOs, mastering the behavior that comes more naturally to a dominant person would serve you well in your quest. 

Tyler & Company’s Financial Leadership Practice is led by Joan Elizabeth Gee, whose career spans more than 25 years in primarily C-suite healthcare search. Joan’s experience stems from serving as a Partner of Talent Acquisition Services at Tatum, a US-based firm that specializes in finance and technology and offers interim leadership, executive search, project staffing and consulting. 

Tyler & Company has 35 years of experience sourcing, recruiting and placing executives in the healthcare industry. Our roots in the financial sector trace even deeper.  While our Founder and current Chairman and CEO, J. Larry Tyler, remains an active, hands-on search consultant, he began his career as a CPA at Price Waterhouse. 

Reach Joan Elizabeth Gee, Vice President and Chair of the Financial Leadership Practice at +1 770 396 3939 or jgee@tylerandco.com.