By Jose Ruiz
Jose Ruiz serves as Alder Koten’s Chief Executive Officer providing vision, strategic direction and the roadmap for the firm’s future. He is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures.
STRATEGIES ON REACHING C-LEVEL POSITIONS
The corporate career ladder is like a funnel. The higher the position, the smaller pool of candidates would be qualified. C-level positions are the ultimate destination, which requires preparation long before arriving. In other words, as soon as you work in a managerial position, start strategizing.
Keep the C-level destination as the goal. It goes without saying that you would need to have all the leadership skills required in making strategic decisions, as well us a comprehensive understanding of how things work on the operational level. The better prepared you are, the better chance you would have for reaching this top position.
The strategies on reaching C-level position can be identified in five fundamentals. Read with caution as they are not in chronological order. For instance, it does not mean that you must have a comprehensive experience first before building good relationships, internalizing the culture, and taking note of your achievements. Use the best discretion, which is a good practice to polish your strategizing skill.
First, building a 360-degree experience.
Obtain as much experience as possible, starting from the very bottom. Every step of business operation is different, which requires specific skills. Some skills are more technical; others can be more organizational and managerial. Even working as an office errand can be quite challenging for those who have never experienced it.
Consider building a good body of knowledge for every position in the company. Pay close attention to the required skills, the workflow, how it is related to other positions, the risks involved, and how to improve it for the sake of the company’s overall performance. Building this body knowledge itself requires patience, persistence, and focus in addition to understanding the technical aspects and social interaction patterns.
Second, building good relationships with people at the top and the bottom.
It goes without saying that your interpersonal skills can make or break your path to attaining the C-level position. The more loved you are as a leader and a follower, the better chance you have to move up the ladder. Pay close attention to what people need, instead of what you want. When it is time to provide services, do it with class and conviction.
Whenever possible, find out who are being groomed to fill the next C-level suites. Analyze their strengths and weaknesses. To win the competition, you should keep your rivals close without being overly competitive. In other words, maintain a calm and confident composure, while noticing all the possibilities.
Third, internalizing the corporate culture.
Every company is different. Some are very casual, like in Silicon Valley tech companies; others are very formal, like in the finance and banking sectors. Follow the culture carefully, while at the same time introducing new things that would improve performance and productivity. In other words, show your leadership quality early at the beginning of your career in that company. Don’t let the culture sway you from your goal.
Fourth, recoding your achievements.
Numbers and quality do not lie. Take note of your achievements, preferably after each performance meeting. Keep a file of how you have performed, including whenever you received praise for a good job well done. The more achievements you can show in a performance evaluation, the better. Moreover, the quality of each achievement also matters.
Fifth, ensuring it is good timing.
Depending on which level you started your career in a corporation, the C-level suite you are aiming may not be available for a few years. This means if the tenure of the current CFO has just been started, it would be almost impossible for you to replace her in a year. Use your best judgment in discerning whether it is good timing for you to have this goal at that particular company. Consider moving up to C-level somewhere else.
In conclusion, strategizing your career path to arrive at a C-level position requires focus and tenacity, in addition to good timing and a strong and comprehensive body of knowledge of technical and operational skills. Above all, strategizing your career path early on is a good practice for being a strategic C-level executive.
About Alder Koten
Alder Koten helps shape organizations through a combination of research, executive search, cultural & leadership assessment, and other talent advisory services. The firm was founded in 2011 and currently includes 6 partners and over 28 consultants in 4 cities. The firm’s headquarters are located in Houston and it has offices in Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City with partner firms in New York, Boston, Chicago, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Kingdom. We know where to find the executives you need and how to attract top talent to your organization. Our approach to executive search is based on a thorough understanding of the strategic, cultural, financial and operational issues our clients face. Our executive search engagements are targeted and focused on the specific requirements of the position including industry and functional experience, skills, competencies, cultural fit, and leadership style. Our process is rigorous. We take a disciplined and structured approach to identifying potential candidates that meet the position requirements including subject-matter, functional and regional expertise. We use our high-level professional networks, industry knowledge, and internal research resources to achieve results in every executive search engagement.This is a text block. Click the edit button to change this text.