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Deloitte: Business Chemistry is essential for building a data-driven approach to understanding leadership personalities


  • Deloitte: Juggling diverse stakeholder personalities is key to CFO role
  • Deloitte survey: 50% of CFOs consider themselves Drivers, and 30% see themselves as Guardians
  • Deloitte: Misreading personality leads to workplace inefficiency, poor team dynamics and personal brand damage

1 July, 2013 – CFOs juggle with many diverse stakeholder personalities as part of their job requirement, and often times, knowing how to interact with these individuals can mean the difference between success and failure. As such, a framework identifying distinct patterns of behavior – dubbed “Business Chemistry” – was created by Deloitte with the aim of not only improving individual interactions, but also influencing strategy.

“Business Chemistry” is the product of the collaboration between Deloitte and scientists from the fields of neuro-anthropology and genetics. It consists of a personality system that leverages modern computational techniques to bring a data-driven approach to understanding personalities. In the recent issue of CFO Insights report issue by Deloitte, the Power of Business Chemistry, these different Business Chemistry types are outlined along with the various tactics in which CFOs can leverage these types to their advantage.

Business Chemistry uses a series of 70 behavioral questions to reveal four dominant personality patterns, which are:

  • Drivers: analytical thinkers who are intellectually creative and prefer experimentation over theorization
  • Pioneers: blue-sky ideas people, whose adaptability allows them to thrive in multiple environments
  • Integrators: masters of empathy and nuance, particularly skilled at understanding the broader context of an issue
  • Guardians: people who prefer concrete reality, particularly skilled at providing structure and minimizing risk

A Deloitte survey of CFOs of large companies reveals that more than half consider themselves Drivers, and 30% consider themselves Guardians. As such, Business Chemistry as a tool can not only be used to help recognize personality patterns in colleagues – which would help gain insight into how to connect on a personal level and build effective teams - but also helps create awareness of one’s own predilections and tendencies.

Consequently, CFOs who understands their own Business Chemistry are better suited to engage and influence stakeholders, manage team strengths and weaknesses and flex to multiple roles, as needed.

“This report is particularly relevant to the Middle East region because of the additional challenge that CFOs face here – namely, working with people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds” explains James Babb, Partner and CFO Program Leader, Deloitte Middle East. “Understanding the cultural differences between people on top of their individual personality traits makes it even more challenging for a CFO to  relate to the people he is working with, establish trust with them, communicate with them effectively, and find the common bonds upon which to build a healthy chemistry within a culturally diverse team”, he adds.

Business Chemistry is not only about creating a personal advantage, but also about creating a competitive advantage by creating better alignment within teams, better engagement and relationships with stakeholders and a better understanding of how to change perceptions and build credibility within the CFO role.

To read the full report visit: ‘CFO Insights: the Power of Business Chemistry

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