Are you ready to break into the C-Suite? Landing a role can be the ultimate challenge for many seasoned executives, with the number of potential roles narrowing the further you climb to the top. While leadership styles, experience levels, and personal traits vary from one C-Level executive to the next, there are several key characteristics and activities that most successful C-Suite leaders share:
- Be willing to take on new challenges…with enthusiasm: When it comes to C-Suite candidates, hard work pays off. Those who set themselves apart in the workplace as being willing to take on new responsibilities, particularly those that no one else is prepared to do, will help to establish themselves as having true leadership potential. It is important to appear energetic, proactive, enthusiastic and above all, meticulous.
- Be prepared to move laterally: In today’s business environment, C-Level executives are expected to demonstrate an increasingly broad range of business skills, from finance to strategy. If your current role or career path has not allowed you to develop or demonstrate a wide variety of business skills in a multitude of environments, it might be worth considering a lateral career move before attempting to move up to a C-Level position. Smaller or similar size roles that add to your credentials can have the power to lead to bigger opportunities.
- Understand the effects of Digital Transformation: The business landscape continues to rapidly transform and it is now essential for hopeful C-Suite executives to have a deep understanding of how digital transformation affects all facets of an organization, whether their role directly pertains to technology or not. Business leaders should be able to advise on creating new (or modify existing) business processes to remain competitive in very often saturated markets.
- Position Yourself for Good Timing: If you are hoping to stay at your current organization, it is vital to critically assess the likelihood of a C-Suite opening becoming available. If the C-Level position has recently been filled by a popular, successful and relatively young executive, you could be forced to wait for a long time for the position to become open. Be realistic about your potential future opportunities and consider your options if the timing looks like it might not be in your favor.
- Able to Demonstrate Your Impact: Being able to measure your tangible impact on your current and previous organizations can be instrumental in securing your future C-Suite role. You must be able to provide facts and figures to show how your efforts have improved your company and how you have been able to achieve high caliber results in high pressure environments.
- Be Prepared to Make Tough Decisions: When entering a leadership position, you will be expected to make difficult decisions, under pressure, that are not always popular, while simultaneously maintaining the respect of the team. In order to reach a C-Level position, you need to showcase this level of decision making in order to demonstrate your ability to get things done and meet business goals. Top C-Suite executives are often characterized as being proactive, aggressive and efficient.
- Understand the Importance of Cultural Fit: Executives should be mindful to never underestimate the importance of cultural fit. C-Suite executives are supposed to set the tone for their teams and for the organization, so if you are not in sync with the company’s culture, it is unlikely that you will be selected for upcoming C-Level positions.
- Be Open and Vocal About Your Ambition: Transparency is key to getting on the C-Suite shortlist. Without the support of those at the top, it is difficult for executives to rise above their current position, so make your ambitions known in order to gain their trust and support. Voicing your C-Suite aspirations can be a sensitive topic, but it is possible to broach the subject in a way that expresses honesty and humility. Articulating your ambitions to those at the top also has the added benefit of allowing your superiors to let you know the present situation and the achievability of your C-Suite goal.