News & Insights

Why you missed out on that promotion — Three key reasons

promotion to c-suite

The trajectory of your career has been leading you in the direction of the C-suite for some time. When the time came to sit for an interview however, you didn’t land the promotion, leaving you rocked and confused.

Securing a C-suite position in today’s world is no longer reliant on industry knowledge and your financial expertise. Growing workplace diversity, fast-paced innovation and changing organisational priorities now calls for leaders to have strong social skills. Because let’s face it, everything in business comes back to relationships and people.

In this article, we share three key reasons why many finance professionals are not climbing the executive ladder, which are based on our research insights, and how you can up-skill in these areas to set up your future career.

Our leadership research

Based on our vast experience in the finance and recruitment sectors, we know there are unwritten rules when it comes to career promotion that do not always relate to your technical ability, industry experience, or business knowledge. Instead, they are often to do with your “soft skills” and personal attributes, which give decision-makers an intuitive sense of whether you will succeed at the senior level or not.

“In our experience, finance professionals are excellent with the technical parts of their roles; however, lack the “personal” aspects essential for leadership.”

– Vicky Lazarus, Manager of Moir Group Career Advisory

 After extensive research, Moir Group has identified some of the main non-technical skills which are important for career progression into leadership roles.

3 key reasons you didn’t get the promotion (and what to work on)

1. Effective Communication.

 Developing clear and inclusive communication skills as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) improves your ability to share complex financial information with the various stakeholders you engage with on a daily basis. As this skill grows and develops, so too will your relationships with those you communicate with. Our research shows that effective communication translates into stronger connections, the ability to influence decisions and trust in your leadership abilities. 

2. Managing others

Can you recall times when you have been managed well in your career? What stood out to you and why? While your technical and strategic capabilities are important as a CFO, your ability to manage others is also vital. In fact, most agree from our research that technical skills and proficiencies can be developed on the job within an organisation. Instead, what will land you your promotion takes intentional self-development and practice. Active listening is crucial to achieving this. To create financial strategies that meet your company’s needs, you need to know what questions to ask, how to communicate these questions well, and most importantly, practice the art of active listening.

Active listening might look like:

  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Paying attention to non-verbal cues such as body language
  • Asking questions without interrupting
  • Keeping an open mind free from judgement
  • Repeating their words back to them
  • Showing you are listening like nodding
  • Parking your opinion or solutions

3. Emotional intelligence

Research shows that only 36% of people have the ability to understand and manage emotions. As someone aspiring for a leadership position, practising empathy, and developing emotional intelligence is a vital soft skill. When having to make difficult financial decisions, it is not uncommon to be faced with strong emotional responses. Balancing human empathy with financial rigour, especially when confronted with big changes such as budget cuts, is at the heart of emotional intelligence.

Regulating your own emotions is also essential. It is a great place to start when trying to understand the emotions of others. Observe how you feel and behave. Stay curious of your reactions and apply this same open curiosity to your team and stakeholders.

Pathway to CFO Program

At Moir Group, we have spent time determining the gaps in the market for finance professionals and are delighted to announce the launch of our Pathway to CFO Program. This is an intensive and interactive program developed by our Career Advisory for finance professionals and is specifically designed for emerging leaders looking to take that next step to CFO.

“It delves into the “self” and developing the skills to navigate relationships at the Executive and Board level, understanding more about the self to enhance leadership skills with regards.”

Promotion to c-suite

This program will officially run from February to June 2024 with an introduction session among course attendees in early December 2023.

Sign up now here

If you have any question, feel free to contact Vicky Lazarus, Manager of Moir Group Career Advisory on 0477 977 988 or

Final thought

Just because you didn’t land that CFO role now, doesn’t mean you’re not well on the path to achieving your goals. By considering the steps mentioned above and implementing them in your everyday, you will make strides in your career development and open yourself up to many opportunities.

Read How to find a CFO with the right cultural fit and Why should CFOs take the lead on ESG.

Reach out to the Moir Group team if you would like to learn more.

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Moir Group acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present and encourage applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people of all cultures, abilities, sex, and genders.