What does the path to the C-suite look like? How do you get there?
In a world where women need to work, on average, 3.5 years longer than their male counterparts to climb the ranks, we consider what it really takes to reach the C-suite, including what jobs are more commonly viewed as valuable experience and the key characteristics that CEO’s search for.
What you need to do to get a C-suite role
From networking to finding a mentor, the route to the top is likely to be different based on experience, industry and even your geographical location. The most common (and effective) steps to prioritise include:
Experience reigns supreme when it comes to getting a C-Suite role, as it should. Positively pursuing promotions, making an impact in every role you get and positioning yourself as a thought leader will help. Taking on projects outside of your direct responsibility will help you stand out – and it also demonstrates your ability to use initiative and take the lead on different types of projects.
2. Work on your strengths
While we are often told to work on our weaknesses in order to improve, concentrating solely on a weakness can actually neglect your strengths.
In the journey to the C-suite, leaning into your strengths and perfecting them can often pay off more than spending time honing skills you won’t necessarily need.
There’s a lot of research that supports this ‘positive psychology’ approach, revealing higher employee engagement, an increase in performance and lower attrition. Ultimately, strength development can help you become more confident, self-aware and productive, all of which are key attributes when it comes to C-suite roles.
3. Focus on the commercials
It’s essential that senior leaders are able to stay abreast of business and commercial demands, which push the organisation forward and fulfil its needs.
Similarly, one of the most important factors of any executive position is the P&L responsibility. P&L responsibility involves overseeing the net income after expenses for a department or even the entire organisation. You’ll have direct influence on how company resources are allocated and often give final approval for new projects. On the flip side, you’ll also be required to find ways to cap expenditure and ensure all programmes are generating a positive ROI.
4. Demonstrate creativity and innovation
In our ever changing era of digital transformation and AI acceleration, members of the C-suite need to be creative and innovative.
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