As we are just starting this year and looking to a brighter future, we can say that 2021 was a time of learning and survival for many c-suite executives. But, despite the challenges that companies have faced over the past years, 2022 is projected to be the year of revival. As each of the industries have been forced to reimagine their strategies, goals, and needs, c-suite team members are expected to transform as well and become new leaders. So, while every organization is getting ready to thrive in the coming year, they are also developing a better understanding of the new c-suite skills required to unite, strengthen, and revitalize the workforce.
The current state of the market has indeed forced companies to innovate processes and relationships with customers and their workforce. However, the urge for these changes requires restructuring the c-suite at a high pace in order to meet current and upcoming challenges. This is why companies should approach and examine how the current c-suite roles work within their corporate ecosystem and respond appropriately. Finally, to design a successful strategy, survive tough times, and gain an advantage, the c-suite should recognize what’s expected of them.
As new c-suite skills will be necessary, the transformation of the executive room will be inevitable. In fact, according to a recent survey, the current c-suite model is no longer effective, and it will not meet the demands of the next decade. With that said, we’ll share vital insights on how your company can embrace the new business landscape with a strong and renewed c-suite befitted to present times.
Critical c-suite skills to embrace an ever-evolving business world
Almost 60 percent of HR leaders reported that their top priority for 2022 is to reskill their existing personnel. They also remarked on their interest in finding new leaders for the c-suite while creating adaptive and diverse teams to join their evolving plans.
Investing in developing c-suite skills and making them available to all employees will become crucial for any company that wants to empower its leaders.
Our extensive experience working with successful enterprises over the years, including our own, has helped us better understand what outstanding leadership looks like. Indeed, there are many essential capabilities required to become an executive manager. However, we’ve selected the following key c-suite skills of the c-suite as some of the must-haves when it comes to strong and agile leadership.
1. Strategic thinking
The past few months have been anything but stable, and leaders have acted quickly to resolve whatever issues they’ve faced. However, although they should be action-oriented to achieve results, planning for the long run should still be the initial focus. Consequently, developing strategic thinking becomes essential to plan now what you want for your company tomorrow.
Strategic thinking is all about keeping an eye on a bigger picture. It requires seeing what nobody else sees, since leaders should pay attention to opportunities missed by others and learn to anticipate the future. They need to create strategies for different scenarios, having a broader vision of the future they expect for the company. Additionally, executives need to watch the company’s overall advancements and improvements if they want their business to grow.
The bottom line is that optimal strategic thinking includes making the entire team part of the growth process. So, taking care of their career development is vital.
2. Decision making
Long gone are the days that relied solely on the CEO to make the crucial decisions. In reality, the strict hierarchy is going away, and with management being more open, investors, employees, customers, and the board will have a say.
The c-suite needs to consider different opinions and still make the best decisions for the company’s benefit. Listening will become essential, and those who’ve learned from past disruptions will make better choices. Finally, innovative leaders will inspire employees to make decisions for themselves and act proactively.
COVID-19 has taught us the importance of mutual help and support. Leadership alone cannot be successful without the collective effort of those who surround them. The ability to work as a team is essential in today’s complex environment.
The c-suite meaning includes all executive-level managers, who need to perform together as a group of experts collaborating with other functional leaders. Teams that influence the company’s direction should also be part of the agenda. While managers become actively involved, their influence will also promote networks of teams throughout the business.
4. Flexibility and change management
The times we currently face demand a tremendous amount of adaptability. Change is the only certainty we have, and the ability to adjust is vital. However, building and nurturing an agile culture requires executives to be committed. Any lack of support or authenticity from the top will hinder or even freeze any business transformation strategies or critical changes.
Inflexible leaders who resist change can demotivate employees, reduce their enthusiasm, and finally, become the reason for negative feelings among the workforce or even resignations. Do not be afraid of change; embrace it and thrive while doing so.
5. Leading by example
There’s an urgent need for empathy in the c-suite. When we refer to empathy, we talk about the ability to tame one’s ego and connect with others creatively. Leaders need to be open-minded and admit that they don’t have all the answers.
Instead, the c-suite skills should guide and inspire throughout the organization. Doing so will awaken a sense of consistency with the company’s values while increasing loyalty to the brand. A purpose-driven leader has a powerful effect on people’s performance and can aggravate workforce and client engagement.
6. Focus on human connections
Since hybrid and remote work have become the new normal, leaders have less visibility than before. Unfortunately, today human connections can be easily lost if not maintained and nurtured properly. As a result, building trust has become extremely necessary.
Leading with empathy has become the answer since it has proven to have three times more beneficial effect on employees’ performance. In addition, promoting human connections that go beyond a virtual or physical space is crucial to generate inclusion and a sense of belonging.
Dedicating the time to connect with the workforce and genuinely get to know them is one of the key c-suite skills of the c-suite. Prioritizing people over processes can improve employees’ commitment and initiative.
How are the roles of c-suite executives evolving?
Different times require different c-suite skills, and those looking to get one of the c-suite titles will need to acquire the capabilities most needed now and in the future. So, as the new c-suite roles evolve, we’ll dive into some of the new requirements currently expected and those that will be necessary for the coming years.
Chief information officer
With the increased demand for IT functions, companies are looking for CIOs who have a good head for business but also understand infrastructure, analytics, and organizational design. In addition, having a good knowledge of marketing, e-commerce, or even logistics can be a plus. Finally, a chief information officer who knows how to manage and use the enormous amounts of data a company collects will be the most wanted.
Chief marketing officer
With online channels continuing to dominate marketing and sales functions, a CMO (chief marketing officer) will need to tailor their digital capabilities and become an expert in segmentation to provide fast and effective customer interaction. As they promote the company’s services or products, they will be required to illustrate the actual impact of their job with data and analytics. Finally, an ability to manage a digital age workforce will also be crucial.
Chief financial officer
A CFO (chief financial officer) will continue playing an essential role in company growth. However, they will need to acquire a global mindset since they will be operating worldwide. In addition, they will need to have experience in corporate functions and operations as they will work with nonfinancial areas to help companies change and expand.
Chief accounting officer
Working next to a CFO, a CAO (chief accounting officer) takes care of the day-to-day financial wellbeing of a company. With past disruptions and higher risk levels, a chief accounting officer will be required to be more analytical and forward thinking. Their ability to manage big data, technology, and people, along with strategic planning skills, will be much appreciated.
As a general counsel learns to deal with a range of new and evolving global challenges, they will also need to acquire unique strengths in strategic and business knowledge. In addition, international legal expertise along with cultural awareness and fluency in various languages will become crucial.
Chief risk officer
The future will continue bringing disruptions, and chief risk officers will be expected to anticipate and control a list of never-ending ventures. However, organizations look for CROs who are risk-takers and understand how to turn disruptive moments into opportunities. Besides providing functional solutions, they must understand the reasons and triggers to adjust and future-proof the business strategy. With these qualities in mind, a chief risk officer is expected to become a valuable decision-maker.
Chief compliance officer
With business process automation taking over many technical and operational compliance tasks, a chief compliance officer will be expected to detect the next future crisis quickly. Moreover, having an extensive external network will be a plus, as they continually interact with regulators and governmental institutions. Along with embracing technology and its threats, a chief compliance officer and HR executives will become the key guardians of a corporate culture.
Chief operating officer
As COOs find new ways to interact with suppliers, they will become technology experts who drive and sustain innovation. A chief operating officer will also be required to have experience in organizational design and emerging markets. In addition, with more competitive global distribution, international experience will grow significantly in the role.
Chief technology officer
As this role becomes vital for any company that wants to remain ahead in technology adoption, the list of required capabilities for a chief of technology officer will continue growing. Since embracing advanced tech solutions and tools will become more critical than having in-depth technical knowledge, we might see CTOs coming from outside IT fields. This role is highly collaborative, so patience and the ability to change are essential.
Chief executive officer
Soft leadership c-suite skills have become essential for c-level roles, and CEOs are no exception. In fact, their two critical duties are to listen and communicate effectively. In addition, as the chief executive officer becomes more involved with other areas, they will be required to be excellent collaborators and strategic thinkers. Empathy and trust-building will be highly desirable. Finally, since a CEO is the face of the company, credibility and public affinity will be essential.
A purpose-driven c-suite
The c-suite meaning evokes a group of officers expected to lead with purpose and transparency. Accordingly, when times demand new leadership c-suite skills, stakeholders, employees, and customers expect the c-suite to perform at their best. However, as well as reskilling, leading with a shared purpose may have a tremendous impact on the company’s success. Therefore, c-suite executives should build, nurture, and drive a corporate culture based on commitment, loyalty, and support. By doing so, people across the company will be proactive and contribute to collective success.