Everyone wants to make it to the top, but unfortunately, it is no cakewalk. Entering the top league demands years of dedication, hard work, sweat, and experience. And with evolving times, the roles defined in c-suite positions are also changing. Previously, companies that wanted to hire a CEO or executive looked for someone with technical expertise and advanced administrative skills.
In 2023, this practice feels like ancient history. Companies can no longer rely on leaders with traditional managerial knowledge and pedigrees. Today, organizations hire executives who can motivate tech-savvy, diverse, and global workforces. They want leaders who can deal with constituents, adapt and apply new skills in the company, and play the role of a corporate statesperson. While these changes present a challenge for executive recruitment, they are opportunities for business professionals.
Emerging business professionals can showcase their soft skills, managerial potential, and adaptability to grab c-suite positions. In addition, technical expertise, a firm grasp of business fundamentals, and competitiveness can also help you move up the ladder. Now, the question is what other skills business professionals should hone as they strive to become executives. Look below.
Here we have outlined six tips for business professionals to secure c-suite positions.
Table of Contents
1. Advanced Education, Certifications, and Diploma
None of the CEOs, CIOs, or CFOs have sub-standard bachelor’s degrees. Instead, they have a long list of qualifications that includes multiple diplomas, short courses, and, most importantly, a master’s degree. Depending on your field and expertise, consider pursuing MBA with a specialization. You might wonder when to get a MBA degree, right after graduating from college or after gaining a few years of work experience. Truthfully, there is no right time.
You can enroll in an MBA program online and complete it while continuing your job. Otherwise, you can take a yearlong gap to finish your MBA. Once you have a master’s degree, explore industry-specific diploma courses and certifications. It will equip your in-depth knowledge of your field, developing business acumen. Besides this, multiple qualifications in your resume will help you stand out from other candidates, making you the perfect fit for an executive role.
2. Demonstrate Strategic Thinking
Every company needs a strategy to achieve plans and goals, outlining how to compete in the market. So, how is the business strategy developed? It involves strategic thinking, where leaders apply unique business insights and opportunities to create an action plan for the organization. Simply put, strategic thinking is about having a vision for the future.
As a strategic thinker, you can devise plans and bring a new point of view to the table. Your ability to think logically and critically can appeal to employers. Explain your vision for the company, forecast upcoming changes, and how everyone can adapt to the new business trajectory. It’s one of the most sought-after skills recruiters look for when hiring c-suite applicants.
3. Build Social Skills
When recruiters talk about social skills, they refer to specific capabilities like self-awareness, communication, and listening. It is also about working with different people and inferring how they think and feel. That is because executives and CEOs can’t limit themselves to performing routine tasks; they must spend significant time interacting with others and enabling coordination. Likewise, they have to facilitate the exchange of ideas and solve problems. And without social skills, none of this seems possible.
Another reason why social skills have become vital for c-suite roles is because of networking technologies and social media. Executives and CEOs are nothing less than public figures. They must interact with a range of internal and external constituencies. Further, they must manage interactions in real-time and network platforms like Glassdoor. All in all, c-suite professionals must be handy at communicating with the right words to attract people.
4. Explore Networking Opportunities
After stepping into the corporate world, only a few people focus on networking. Believe it or not, networking is essential for everyone. A well-built network can be one of the most powerful tools for career development. As an aspiring leader, you can use your network and relationships in the industry to find new career opportunities. You will know which organization is hiring before everyone knows about the opportunity.
Moreover, a professional network can provide new ideas and information. Business professionals must connect with people they expect to work with one day. Effective networks based on diverse relationships can be fruitful for aspiring leaders. So, start attending industry conferences and webinars to become acquainted with industry leaders.
5. Exhibit Leadership Skills
Many people think of themselves as born leaders, but the real challenge is demonstrating those leadership skills. That means you must lean into opportunities to demonstrate leadership skills. Let’s say there is a conflict over asset acquisition between the financial controller and production manager. As a leader, you must rectify the issue without bias towards any party. Similarly, find opportunities to mentor, coach, and train others around you.
Remember, people follow leaders they can resonate with; therefore, be empathic and connect with people. After all, it is more about soft skills than tactical expertise regarding c-suite positions. Your ability to cultivate the best in others is the most valuable skill. Thus, demonstrate that clearly as a leader to keep your team motivated.
6. Identify Gaps in the Industry
At times, there is a preconceived notion about c-suite positions. Some believe people with connections make it to the top, whereas others think they need strong backing. Likewise, women believe there is gender discrimination in c-suite roles. They think men are preferred as women tend to be more empathetic and passive decision-makers. Are these things true or only mere assumptions?
With reflection comes awareness and an opportunity to reset narratives. You can identify the gaps in the industry and set ideas in motion to progress toward the desired goals. Often the perception set about a particular industry holds people back. Therefore, assess the industry closely, look for gaps, and avail opportunities to bridge them. It will help you progress toward your desired goal and climb the ladder of success.
Lately, the role of c-suite professionals has changed drastically. Now, recruiters want change-makers who can make a difference in the organization. It presents an opportunity for aspiring business professionals wanting to secure c-suite positions. They must upskill, expand their network, and demonstrate solid leadership skills. Likewise, industry knowledge, technical expertise, and soft skills are essential to excel in c-suite roles.