Create Real Value by Focusing on Culture and Talent Development, with Jim Kaitz, President and CEO at the Association for Financial Professionals

Create Real Value by Focusing on Culture and Talent Development, with Jim Kaitz, President and CEO at the Association for Financial Professionals

My guest today is Jim Kaitz, the President and CEO of AFP, the Association of Financial Professionals. In this episode, we don’t talk much about finances! Instead, we talk about culture and talent development. We explore how to foster the desired culture day-to-day and how to continuously develop talent. I’m glad you’re here to benefit from my discussion with Jim.

About my Guest:

Jim Kaitz is President and CEO of AFP, an association that represents over 16,000 treasury and financial professionals globally. The organization established and administers the Certified Treasury Professional® and Certified Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis Professional® credentials, setting standards of excellence in finance. The AFP Annual Conference is the largest networking event for corporate finance professionals. He was formerly EVP and COO of Financial Executives Institute, a professional association of over 14,000 senior financial executives representing 8,000 companies in the United States.

Prior to joining FEI in 1988 as the VP of Government Relations, he was Manager, Trade and Business Affairs at Baxter Healthcare Corporation. He was Director, Government Relations for the Scientific Apparatus Makers Association and joined FEI’s Washington Office in 1983. He was legislative assistant to the Honorable James Shannon (D-MA), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

He is a 1978 graduate of Georgetown University.

Connect with James at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-kaitz/



About the Host:

Amy L. Riley is an internationally renowned speaker, author, and consultant. She has over 2 decades of experience developing leaders at all levels. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Deloitte, and Barclays. 

As a trusted leadership coach and consultant, Amy has worked with hundreds of leaders one-on-one, and thousands more as part of a group, to fully step into their leadership, create amazing teams, and achieve extraordinary results. 

 

Amy’s most popular keynote speeches are:

The Courage of a Leader: The Power of a Leadership Legacy

The Courage of a Leader: Create a Competitive Advantage with Sustainable, Results-Producing Cross-System Collaboration

The Courage of a Leader: Accelerate Trust with Your Team, Customers and Community

The Courage of a Leader: How to Lead, Sell and Succeed Virtually

 

Her new book is a #1 international best-seller and is entitled, The Courage of a Leader: How to Inspire, Engage and Get Extraordinary Results.

 

www.courageofaleader.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/amyshoopriley/

 

Links mentioned in the episode

https://www.bicmagazine.com/departments/hr/the-other-side-of-smart-advancing-the-human-machine-mix/

https://brentakedzierski.substack.com/p/three-hard-truths-about-work-in-2022

https://brentakedzierski.substack.com/p/hey-company-do-you-have-a-strong

 

Call to action

Get your free copy of Amy’s eBook, “How to Leader, Sell and Succeed Virtually” here: http://courageofaleader.com/ebook-how-to-lead-sell-and-succeed-virtually/

 

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Transcript
Amy Riley:

My guest today is Jim Kaitz, the President and CEO of the Association for Financial Professionals. In this episode, we talk about culture and talent development, and how important they are. Yet pragmatically we explore how to choose how to foster the desired Culture Day to day, and how to continuously develop talent. I'm glad you're here to benefit from my discussion with Jim.

Amy Riley:

Welcome to The Courage of a Leader podcast. This is where you hear real life stories of top leaders achieving extraordinary results. And you get practical advice and techniques, you can immediately apply for your own success. This is where you will get inspired. And take bold, courageous action. I'm so glad you can join us. I'm your host, Amy Riley. Now, are you ready to step into the full power of your leadership and achieve the results you care about most? Let's ignite the courage of a leader.

Jim Kaitz:

When I first got the job here, there, he was kind of getting to a point where what was my leadership style? So what did I believe and I read a lot of books from a lot of different leaders. And I think I came to the conclusion that you have to kind of develop your own philosophy, although you can borrow it and steal from others. But the one thing that in this book that struck me was when he talked about walking into organizations that didn't have a culture that didn't have a well defined culture. And then how do you set the expectations of an organization? Now, a lot of organizations have their, their core value is, you know, sitting on the wall, but that's exactly what they do. They sit on the wall. And I, after I read this book, realize that for me, it was not about them sitting on the wall, but actually making sure that the organization's I worked for live those core values. And so I'll stop there for me and certainly can answer any questions in terms of how we do that. But that emphasis on core values is not cheating 23 years, and our core values have really not changed. I think we did from the original work that was done, we've updated and made them a little more relevant, maybe hipper. But they remain the same. And we take them, you know, we we measure actually, it's 50% of everyone's compensation today. It's not only how you achieve goals, but also how you do that. And and it's important that it's just not all about getting results is how you get those results. It's very important.

Amy Riley:

Yeah. And how do you embed the the value into the culture really use them as the guiding principles and behaviors you reward and uphold?

Jim Kaitz:

Well, it's rewarding to uphold that also to have a conversation around. And that's what struck me if you don't know what you stand for, and they're either sitting on the wall or they don't exist. So how do you as a, as a manager or a leader in an organization have a conversation with people? What is it based on? Well, based on what I think today or what I read the paper, here at AFP, it's based upon a very well defined clear set of cultural expectations.

Amy Riley:

Nice. Does it show up in our conversations? Does it show up in our calendars? What we're doing day to day is that in direct support of an alignment with the values, right,

Jim Kaitz:

I mean, Melissa is here today and she's a member of the senior leadership team either we have we meet every Monday and Wednesday. Every morning. We used to do Monday, Wednesday, Friday, but we probably sick of each other. But I don't know, any any meeting every day, every meeting every week, something related to culture comes up with with the leadership team in terms of just ensuring and how we even interact as a leadership team. Our culture is embedded in that in terms of what our expectations for each other are. So I think having it very well defined, so it at least in our organization, I like to think we're not just talking to talk bull walking the walk. But I always say that these core values are aspirational, right? I mean, every day and every moment you'd like to think people are living those core values, certainly in the office environment or work environment. But I think you have to be realistic and believe that they are they're aspirational, but it's something to have a real concrete conversation around

Amy Riley:

We are human beings, right? We're gonna have good days and not so good days and pressures and ambiguity, ambiguity happening, right? We're not always going to be at our best 100% aligned with those values, recognizing that, but I love to hear that the senior leadership team is talking about it regularly. I don't think that's happening in nearly enough organizations.

Jim Kaitz:

Well, I think we hold ourselves accountable to that. And it's a way to really start a conversation and and if you've got something that you know, you're having a benchmark against, then you can have a conversation, you might agree to disagree, but you're at least having a conversation around some specific actions and behaviors that that we really feel are important that AFP for people to live by. They at least live by journey, you know, the office hours or the day. And I'm pretty comfortable that most of the people at AFP live those values.

Amy Riley:

They take those home with them, too. Yeah, it's

Jim Kaitz:

hard to change your stripes that quickly. After five or six o'clock. Well, one of the things that I've been emphasizing a lot, I think you've mentioned, you've seen a lot of things that I've ever been referencing or writing is, is as related to people in the treasury and corporate finance profession. I don't think it's unique to corporate finance and Treasury. But on the other hand, if you think about the power of the CFO and organizations, and there's a lot of articles right now about the the CFO and capability building within their organizations capability being one of the capabilities is talent development. And I think this is an area where CFOs because they have such influence over the purse strings. I quite frankly, don't believe that CFOs are really focused on talent development, I think that there is always been a little bit of tension between the CFO and CHRO. I actually sat on the Sherm board Society of Human Resource Management for eight years love that. And I will say that they all had kind of CFO envy, they wanted to CHRO to have kind of the statue of this CFO. And I think the CFO has that stature because she or he has, you know, they control the purse strings and an organization. Nevertheless, there's a book called Talent wins by rom Chevron and Dennis carry from Korn Ferry, I did a podcast myself with, with Dennis, and it's really focused on you know, getting the CEO, his CFO and the CHRO, kind of on the same page in terms of talent development and skills development. You think about how much you read about how important upskilling is and talent development. And also, you know, CEOs are talking about it constantly. Show me what you're really doing now. I really don't see it. So that's one of the challenges I've kind of it's on my it's one of the things I really want to challenge people, if you're going to, if you're going to say, Are you focused on talent, if you're going to say you're focused on upskilling? Then what are you doing in a sustained way to make that happen in your organization. So that's been one of the things that I talked about a lot. And I think it's if the CFO has got to get on board, because at the end of the day, that individual's cut up is going to be influential, because the resources that have to be dedicated to talent development, and it's not going to impact the quarterly earnings. You know, it's something that they have to take a long term horizon when they think about it.

Amy Riley:

So in your view, Jim, what is part of the how, how do leaders and financial leaders focus on talent development, and how my AFP support them? Right?

Jim Kaitz:

I think the hardest thing when when you're a finance person is you know, the return on invested capital, that's how they look at resources. There are ways that that from a, from a financial standpoint, you can measure how value is being created an organization and also looking at costs. And unfortunately, when it comes to costs, the first thing that typically gets cut when there's difficult times is professional development budgets. So if you're talking about capability, building and talent development being so important, and upskilling so important, and upskilling, getting employees to be, you know, retain, because we are somewhat in the midst of the Great resignation and people deciding, you know, what, I really don't want to work for these organizations. And when you ask them what they want, a lot of those things revolve around commitment for learning new skills from the organization. And I think that's going to be one of the big, big challenges that organizations, you know, have, it's just not about salaries always important. But I think this this whole concept of upskilling talent development that's going to take resources. One of the things you can look at is what is return on invested talent. Now, that's not an easy thing to measure at times. And again, it's if you're a publicly traded company or, you know, the Wall Street gets you focused on quarterly earnings, it's kind of hard to bake that in. But I think it's, you know, having a commitment to people having commitment to upskilling and talent development, I think is is a something that will distinguish organizations going forward.

Amy Riley:

Love it. And we are hearing from Jim Kaitz who is the president and CEO of AFP, the Association for Financial Professionals, an association that represents over 16,000, treasury and financial professionals globally. The organization very importantly, has established and continues to administer the certified Treasury professional, and certified corporate financial planning and analysis professional credentials, setting standards of excellence in finance. The AFP annual conference is the largest networking event for corporate financial professionals. Jim was formerly EVP and CEO of financial executives Institute, a professional association of over 14,000, senior financial executives. His background also includes positions in government relations, trade and business affairs. And he was legislative assistant to the honorable James Shannon, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. So you bring a breadth of experience to your profession, Jim, I love the focus, I see and hear on talent development, and having financial professionals be those strategic partners inside of the organization. So I'm really glad to have you as a guest today. Well, well, thank you. So we're in the dynamic, rapidly changing times filled with ambiguity and unknowns? What do you think it's? How do we develop our financial professionals for the future? Sure. and on into the future?

Jim Kaitz:

Yeah. So I won't, this won't be anything new to anyone just listen, to me. Certainty is an illusion. And it's always been an illusion. So when people say, Oh, we live in ambiguous times not to challenge you on this, but we've always been, yeah, times. All right. Again, certainty is an illusion, none of us have any certainty beyond, you know, you get up in the morning and the eyes open. So I think it's first of all getting grounded in that, that we always have lived in ambiguity. I mean, I think we live in more challenging times a little bit, but I don't think any of us should be surprised. And I, I tried to do a lot of reading in this as well. And if you look back historically, if you talk, if you look at, you know, the great philosophers, I mean, you can, you know, this uncertainty, ambiguity. All is something that every, every culture has dealt with it at any specific time. So I think we tend to tend to focus on those things. So for me, that grounds me, that's the first thing like, Okay, if I believe certainty is an illusion that, okay, so what are the things that I that I focus on? And then I go back to some of the things that we talked about earlier in terms of, that's how we communicate with with the people we work with, let's just, you know, acknowledge this, this is the world we live in. So how do we take practical steps to overcome these things and deal with them? And I think that it's, it's, it's framing the issue for people, to keep them, keep them grounded. Now. It would be naive of me to think that, that people aren't overly stressed out these days. And I think that's something you have to take into account as a leader, but I don't know if I've ever sat around this for the last 23 years and said, you know, everyone's coming, skipping down the hallway, and happy as can possibly be me. You're always dealing with business problems. You're always dealing with obstacles, celebrate those victories. But I don't, but I think it's just, it's just instilling in people that this is the world we live in, you have to kind of accept it. And kind of go from there. And again, being grounded in the core values for us today. P And and that keep that's our guiding principle, in terms of how we look at the world and how we look at AFP. And I don't think it's any, you know, that that's how I can't say that's the right thing for everyone. But I think it is the leaders and any leaders responsibility to set the tone in the organization set the expectation, and also be realistic about what's going on in the world and acknowledge that and not try to say well, I've got to be Okay, well, everything might not be okay. Yeah. But stay grounded in reality. Yeah. And keep saying certainty is an illusion. So you have to deal with ambiguity.

Amy Riley:

Yeah, yeah, I like that. And I think it does bring us back to culture and the values, we have a healthy culture where we can transparently talk about what's going on and what and debate healthily about what might be the best path forward. If we've got that supportive, values based culture. That's it. That's a that's a grounded, powerful place to start to figure out, how are we going to deal with the uncertainty that's inevitably there?

Jim Kaitz:

I think it frames the discussion frames, everything you do. As an organization, I mean, I will tell you AFPs, half of our revenue comes from the event business. First reaction is Oh, my God, I feel sorry for ourselves, we got delta, that hand, but you know what, it's reality. And All right, now let's, let's fall back on those core values and figure it out, figure it out, we did. And ran out a really successful event last year, and a very successful hybrid event, we actually had people in person at the event. And we will just continue to adapt. But I think that's got to be part of a organization's DNA and part of the culture and embedded in that culture. And I think that hiring, the other thing that I would say is the head of HR for me has always been absolutely one of my closest strategic advisors, actors have to have the right people, you have to have recruit for the right people in an organization. And I think we've, we've done a pretty good job of doing that. And setting expectations for people that come into the organization, what it's going to be like, and around those set of set of core values. And I think that has has put AFP I think in a good position as we go forward.

Amy Riley:

Nice, nice. I like that. Here's the values that we aspire to. And listen, it's going to take some hard work sometimes to continue to do our best to live into those.

Jim Kaitz:

Well, and during stressful times. How do we treat one another? How do we behave? What are the expectations? If you're stressed out, if something is going on, you don't have to necessarily, you know, tell everybody, but come on, you work with enough people enough times, I could look at you right away after knowing you know, and most of the people been around today at P for years, if they walk in or I see him on Zoom. And I'd be able to know in 10 seconds and most people something's going on. And the other thing we talk about at AFP, we talk a lot about blended, blended life that I don't I really don't believe people can separate their work life from their home life. And can they really balance that, that you know, home versus work? To me, I have yet to see some of the can really turn that off, if your child is in is sick, or you have a parent that's not doing well. Or if you're not feeling very well just don't understand and appreciate the fact that we have a we have a blended life and work as part of that life and not try to separate the two out. We have discussions around that. And if somebody tells me, I can do it, I can turn off. God bless you. But I bet you but I

Amy Riley:

wish I knew where that switch was sometimes?

Jim Kaitz:

Well, exactly right. And I will say especially in these times when we're balancing so many different things and and parents and I happen to have a son as a single parent, and you know, those are the types of things where, you know, you can't separate you know, what's going on with your child or what's going on with a spouse or what's going on with a family member. So it's, we talk about it and appreciate it and realize that we all have these blended lives and it's a way to just have a discussion.

Amy Riley:

I really Oh, go ahead.

Jim Kaitz:

No, I'll stop.

Amy Riley:

Yeah, I really like that term. Blended life. I've often talk about work life integration, right? Because balance is an illusion. Certainty is inclusion, right? How does it integrate? How does it blend together? And how do we as leaders inside of organizations support the whole person and just even, you know, from a standpoint of talent development, when we think about ourselves as leaders in all areas of our lives. There can be some transference of skills or even perspectives. It's like, why can I have a passion positive perspective in that area of my life, you know, maybe around my family finances, right, but I don't have a positive perspective around being able to take care of my well being. Right, what do I bring to work? And I think we can look at what's working, what's not working, as well as we'd like in different areas of our lives. And see, how can we, how can we how can we learn from one area to the next and blend? Yeah,

Jim Kaitz:

I think it's, it's, for me, it's a recognition that we all have, we all have this blended life. And, and to be honest, that, you know, if something's going on at home, or something's not going well, for whatever reason that's outside your work life, chances are, it's being reflected in your work life or a couple of days. And I just think it's that, again, we talk about it and have that recognition. That that it's there. By the way, it's not an excuse for not necessarily getting your job done. But it is the right, but but it is something to have a discussion. And to and to be, you know, to realize people have lives, people have lives outside of work, and very hard to separate the two, especially if you're now working virtually. So. Yeah,

Amy Riley:

bringing awareness. Right, yeah, bringing awareness. Because if we don't bring awareness, then our concern about our sick parent, or whatever it is, is unknowingly running the show.

Jim Kaitz:

Right? Oh, my second favorite thing that we put on a pillow is self awareness is a powerful tool, we talk about it all the time. And again, it's it's part of kind of core values and who we are. But again, you've got to be self aware. And we use it's one one of the tools that we use for recruiting, but we do use the DISC profile the multiple disc. So that, you know, we can look at the individual but it's as it says valuable to the individual as it is to the organization. Because, in fact, anytime during like conference time, when we go into high stress, the first thing I'll say is read that profile, what you like under high stress, because I will guarantee you, it will be exhibited. And if you don't believe me, ask your spouse, your friend, your significant other, what am I like under stress and guaranteed they'll describe exactly what you know, what is described in that profile. And, again, it's one thing we use when we're looking at people, we don't say everyone has to have the same profile at AFP. But again, it's self awareness is a powerful tool. And if culture is important, that means how do we interact with others. And it's important, I think, to understand getting some insight into who you are as a person helps you be better at working with others.

Amy Riley:

Absolutely. I'm just certified. And I've seen the Okay, that yeah, the power in understanding your strengths. Within those get overused in times of Usher, and giving teams objective language to talk about, well, Grant says it's really it's really powerful. Yeah, I've had

Jim Kaitz:

to modify my behavior over my career, that's for sure. So my DISC profile, you wouldn't think, you know, I can lead a team of one. So it's been a lot of a self awareness for this person right here.

Amy Riley:

I know that I've also seen it you write and talk about strengths based leadership? Um, why why the focus on strengths?

Jim Kaitz:I was doing reading all those:Amy Riley:

Well, and you're, you're bringing it back around Jim to culture fit.

Jim Kaitz:

That's all you'll hear me talk about mostly.

Amy Riley:

A love it, you've said a number of really valuable things. To me today, the importance of the culture, and living our core values, making sure that shows up in the day to day, how we make decisions, how we spend our time, what's on the calendar, what's in our language, that how powerful it can be, if human resources and finance have a strong strategic relationship,

Jim Kaitz:

along with the CEO, I think he said that, that that group of three, because it's got to start with a CEO, he or she has got to live those core values, I'll just tell you real quickly, when we first developed ours, typically you want to do things, you know, kind of ground up. Yeah. But we felt very, I felt really strongly that the core values had to be developed by the senior team, because the senior team has to buy into those. If you've got a senior team by and then then you then it's that as a way to bring them make them real to the rest of the organization. But there is nothing worse, if you've got a set of cultures and a senior team that doesn't live those core values, then you've got a lot of issues in the organization. So if people were thinking about doing this, I would spend the time with your senior leadership team develop those set of core values and culture put real meaning around them. If you saw our first description of the core values, it wasn't it wasn't some pretty piece of language was this is this is very clear expectations so that if somebody looked at them, we could have a conversation around them. And then once they get a think embedded in the organization, it becomes a little bit easier. Make sure your senior team really buys into them.

Amy Riley:

Yeah, it talks about how does that how does that look behaviorally? Right? Someone's upholding that value? It means that they're doing this and that and the other. Nice.

Jim Kaitz:

And I've had plenty of conversations with our senior team about living their core values, that's for sure. And they would I don't we don't advertise it. But we've had those conversations.

Amy Riley:

Yeah, we have to continue to talk about it. Right. Right. And, hey, that didn't look fully aligned. value of

Jim Kaitz:

i would be a lot nicer. A lot nicer. But I would have said it. But those are my Boston roots. I think we want to we we get right to the point

Amy Riley:

where we got it. We got to be having those those conversations, right. So important. Are we while we walk in the talk?

Jim Kaitz:

Yeah. And it goes back to another word that's probably like way overused, but it builds the trust that you're having a conversation around trust is not about I'm about to fire you or, Hey, we got an issue here. And it's really at every level building that trust the best you can.

Amy Riley:

Yeah, yeah. Well, in other words, right, safety and alignment. Yeah.

Jim Kaitz:

But to me, allowing, you probably know it all starts with those coordinates.

Amy Riley:

Well, and bear is what helps us deal with the uncertainty that is guaranteed to be there. So that's another takeaway. Uncertainty is a given

Jim Kaitz:

It's an illusion to.

Amy Riley:

Yeah, certainty is an illusion. That's it.

Jim Kaitz:

That's pretty stoked by I'm sure you know that that's kind of very stoic way of looking at the world. But yeah, I've embraced it.

Amy Riley:

And we have blended lives. Yes, I like that terminology. Jim, it has been a pleasure. And you have left us with some great food for thought. Thank you for your time and your me being a guest on the episode.

Jim Kaitz:

Oh, it's a pleasure. Thanks. Appreciate it. Take care.

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