Among clients and networks taking the journey to a C-Suite role, I hear some common questions arise. Here are some responses which may be helpful in answering a few of these.
There are many things that you can do. It’s important to understand what your strengths are, what excites you and gives you energy at work, to understand what skills and behaviours are required for C-suite roles and the demands that are placed on people in these roles.
Talking to people who are already on this journey and people who are already in these roles is a great way to gain clarity about this. Discussing your career aspirations with your line manager, and seeking a mentor or a coach are helpful ways to work out if this is the right journey for you. There are many tools available that can assist with this process.
There are some basic essential skills that are required if you are planning a C-Suite career. Some will be more important than others, depending on what you are aiming for and where you plan to focus your career aspirations.
Many of these essential skills are linked to self-awareness and self-leadership… understanding who you are and what’s important to you. Then there are professional skills that are essential to operate at the C-suite level, whether as an executive, a CEO or a MD. These are skills such as leading change, developing teams, strategic thinking and planning, managing up and delegation, to name a few.
This is something that many people do on their own, with the help of their line manager, or working with a mentor or a coach. The important thing here is to know what skills do need to be developed or strengthened and the best way to develop them. Some may require more formalised study or self-directed online learning to develop further. Some people may benefit from secondment opportunities into C-Suite roles or shadowing experiences with people already in a range of different C-suite roles. Help is available if you reach out.
One of the best ways to find out about C-suite roles is to let people know that you are interested in starting this journey. This could be through discussions with your line manager or executives in your own organisation, networking at events related to areas that you are interested in, meeting with existing C-suite executives for coffee, meeting with recruiters or regularly scanning sites that advertise C-suite roles.
In my own C-suite journey, I was fortunate that I had a clear idea about what skill sets I needed to develop to be successful in a C-suite journey. This was the result of a combination of factors: a focus on my own self-development, more formalised education and support from both a mentor and a coach to guide me on my journey.