Have your sights set on the C-Suite? Part One: It’s time to sit yourself in the driver’s seat

Have your sights set on the C-Suite? Part One: It’s time to sit yourself in the driver’s seat

Our new ‘Eye on the C-Suite’ series explores the ascending drive to the top and offers a strategic roadmap to amplify your prospects. We’ll explore today’s much needed skillsets and future proof leadership traits, with downloadable guides along the way.

Reading these instalments may conceivably spur you on to hunt for a new C-Suite level role with renewed vigour…and greater focus and effectiveness.

Suitably, this first instalment explores why it’s crucial to take charge of your career and maximise your opportunities. Moving on or moving up, starting out or changing course, here’s how to do it well.

Stay on top

With many boards and executive teams pressing the accelerator on critical hires, there has never been a more important time to explore your opportunities, position yourself and your career development effectively, and stay on top of your professional game.

Those who simultaneously concentrate on their career trajectory at the same time as their jobs are strides ahead of most.

With companies investing less and less in talent development because of the short employee cycle - now just two to five years on average - one needs to stay conscious and take responsibility to drive and distinguish oneself.  

The last year or two has been an exceptional chance to reflect and reassess what really motivates and fulfils us. Perhaps this is your opportunity to find that role that will be a better fit with your ambitions, talents, and purpose.

So, how do you go about it?

Be proactive. Start taking personal responsibility for your career growth and pay attention to your self-development. Your priority is to think about your unique capabilities and figure out which experiences and skills are the most valuable for tomorrow’s climate. 

This may mean that you need to reposition yourself and your past experience.

Research tells us that experience determines at least 40% of a leader’s future performance.

Look at the bigger picture and start looking back through your career.
Which roles did you make the most impact in? How do you cope under pressure? Where do you add the most value to teams and organisations? Where do you thrive and where do you fall short? Are you able to demonstrate how you successfully managed yourself or a team through disruption?

Executive roles are continuously changing. They're so broad now that you can’t afford to pigeonhole yourself early in your career, so invest time in different roles. Breadth is key.

See different businesses – small, large; growth, turnaround; global, local. Challenge yourself in these different environments. Variety of experience is critical and allows you to be more relevant in the future to more people.

You also need to think about what is going to be relevant for business in the future. Think digital, automation and ESG. The expectations and demands on top executives have never been greater; you must be able to contribute across the entire business agenda.

Crucially, at the top, technical and functional expertise matters less than leadership skills and a strong grasp of business fundamentals. Today’s leaders need to be so much more – they are expected to be transformational leaders, not transactional executives. Up to 85% of the skills required by executives today are related to emotional and social intelligence.

Different times and different conditions will call for different leadership skills.

We will explore this advice further in the series, including what exact key skills and future-proof leadership traits to hone before ascending to the C-Suite.

Reach out 

The road to the C-Suite does not have to be a journey undertaken alone; it can be a difficult task and is one that requires thorough strategic planning. If you are considering a transition to the C-Suite, take the time to engage with executive search firms and consultants - we’d certainly like to hear from you and continue the conversation - please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Watch out for the next instalment in this series where we’ll help ensure that your CV works just as hard as you and why it’s the foundation of your next career move… And to shorten the odds of landing the executive position you want, start your search now and check out our advertised opportunities here.