When navigating today’s ambiguous world, c-suite executives find themselves in a complex business environment. This has resulted in many organisations trying to future proof their organisations to minimise risk. The best time to observe the quality of leaders that you have in your organisation is when there are challenges beyond their control impacting or “rocking” their world.
Some of the organisations that we are providing executive search services to are seeking a new breed of c-suite executives. Leaders that are bold, can manage complexity, embrace uncertainty, run towards the fire, empathise, and collaborate. This article explores the competencies of successful c-suite executives.
In our recent engagements with clients seeking to appoint c-suite executives there has been an emphasis on the management of complexity. These executives must be able to engage with various stakeholders with diverse views/hidden agendas. They are expected to manage operations effectively, deal with governance structures, safeguard huge budgets and manage an organisation with a myriad of challenges.
We discovered that crisis is a key factor that enables leaders to successfully reinvent themselves and grow because it requires them to examine themselves. Those c-suite executives who have been successful displayed the ability to accept uncertainty and are comfortable with the innate discomfort of risk taking. These successful c-suite executives can navigate unchartered waters, make decisions in the absence of all the facts, lead with optimism and communicate with crystal clarity. These leaders can adapt to the environment and conditions they find themselves in.
Their success is defined by their ability to adapt their vision, strategies, and methods as the environment around them changes. They believe in themselves and upon reflection, can change their mind without feeling guilty. They accept that, change even in the absence of all the answers, should be explored.
This new breed of c-suite executives is bold and continue to push forward during challenging times and “run toward the fire” taking calculated risks. They have developed a strong mechanism for dealing with continuous uncertainty and recurring doubt.
During challenging times, collaboration though often neglected becomes important. These c-suite executives collaborate and source solutions to challenges. They are mature enough to understand that they do not have all the answers. This allows them to redirect their attention to the areas where they can be effective and have an impact.
Rapid change has propelled businesses to use technology not only as an enabler but to rethink how businesses can be managed more effectively. The successful C-suite executives are digitally wired and understand digital transformation conceptually. Artificial intelligence, internet-controlled operations and robotics are an integral part of business today. These c-suite executives have developed an aptitude to learn new technologies and developed the skill to use technology in their work more effectively.
Even when businesses embrace technology, people are still an integral part of every business. Therefore, leaders that can empathise with their fellow colleagues have managed to implement solutions speedily. The successful c-suite executives are empathetic and can understand and share the feelings of their colleagues or team members. They inspire compassion, confidence, creativity, and kindness as they reach out to individual employees with a genuine concern about their well- being and unique circumstances.
Internalise lessons learnt
As leaders go through diverse challenges in a rapidly changing environment, those who can draw lessons out of their experience can move forward with a measure of confidence. Leaders who have a sense of purpose and a set of unwavering core values can insulate themselves from businesses’ stressful and challenging events. These successful c-suite executives use their values as their compass and these values keep them on track regardless of the chaos, or challenges they face.
Lucia Mabasa is the Managing Director at pinpoint one human resources