Joining the C-suite – What’s expected now?

by 04 Jun 2012

You are now expected to help shape the organisation. Being a member of the C-team requires giving up not only control of day to day tasks but actually having a much more ill defined set of metrics that measure individual success. Now your report card is the organisation’s scorecard. A much more complex set of variables and one where a direct correlation to an executive’s specific contribution is tougher to gauge.  This leads to a different level and type of career gratification. Momentum is achieved over time in a graduated way. Most of the tangible rewards are offshoots of direct team members’ actions. As well, increasing shareholder value is dependent upon a complex set of internal and external variables.

So what type of leader must you become? A level of confidence that inspires trust and the ability to convince the executive team to follow your lead requires a combination of both self-assuredness and the ability to be humble all at the same time. Although this sounds easy, just think of how many executives you know who have mastered this. Very few, as it is truly an art form. Most leaders have one of these traits and generally too much of one. This often leads to derailment. A huge ego lends itself to being in the centre of the dance floor seeking accolades from the orchestra. Too humble and you go unnoticed, or others will steal your thunder.

 C- level players are extraordinary thinkers with tremendous innovative skills. They do have the ability to understand what is required to be competitive and anticipate consumer demands. Here is the rub. They do not ask what it takes to be number one, but rather ask a different, but crucial question which is, “What is required to stay in business forever?” This is the platform for a sustainable and fluid business model. C-suite executives ultimately help shape direction by ensuring they foster an environment where they garner respect and simultaneously incorporate valuable input from other experts at the table. They do call the shots but only after careful dialogue, input, and weighing the implications of decision making. This takes a strident, resilient and cautious risk taker, with an appetite to be wrong and the ability to pivot. We have now answered what it truly means to have executive presence and be a valued C-level stakeholder.


About the author

Cindy Wahler, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a leadership consultant specialising in succession planning and talent management. She can be contacted at  

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