It takes an impressive track record to make it to the executive suite. But what does it take to succeed once you’ve actually made it to the top? What do you do when the broader organization is now looking to you for direction and guidance?
Individual performance simply isn’t enough to ensure success at the senior leadership level.
It’s different at the top. As a senior executive, you are entrusted to set direction and to act as the proverbial North Star for your organization.
Senior leadership roles require thinking and taking responsibility for planning and directing the work of groups, business lines, and entire functions. Effective performance at this level demands new skills, perspectives, mindsets, and spheres of influence that can vary dramatically from those used to reach the executive suite in the first place.
A Senior Leadership Guide for C-Suite Leaders
You Must Excel in These 5 Ways
In our work with many thousands of senior executive leaders around the globe, we’ve found that those who produce the greatest sustained impact on their organizations excel in 5 key areas.
1. Building an effective executive team.
It takes a savvy senior leadership team to tackle the “tough stuff” organizations face. They need to be able to work together in lockstep to determine the best strategy, communicate the vision, and align the organization behind a path forward. Senior executives must be able to set aside egos, build shared purpose, and work together collectively for the good of the business.
2. Developing resilience.
Those in senior leadership face highly demanding work. Regular exercise, healthy eating, and a good night’s sleep are often the first things to be sacrificed at the altar of the job. Yet when personal health and fitness take a back seat, the impact can be broader than you might think. If you suffer from an illness, have a lack of energy or stamina, or even look psychically unfit, it can affect how your team perceives you. Just a few minutes of intense exercise 3 times a week can make a difference, as can selecting foods that will support your brain’s optimal function.
3. Promoting collaboration.
You and your team must navigate a web of complex relationships and connect with colleagues, customers, and the broader organization. Senior executives should be able to model collaborative behavior, break down silos, and help to establish an organizational culture where employees can thrive. To become skilled in collaboration in a senior leadership role, recognize that your own individual achievement matters less now. Instead, take a clear look at the landscape and put the spotlight on the work of others. Observe barriers, important connections, and the relationships you need to build to help you and your team get things done.
4. Expanding personal influence.
Senior leadership requires strong credibility and skill at persuading others effectively, using personal influence to build consensus and inspire commitment. To expand your influence, focus on being an authentic leader and aligning your actions and words. At the same time, don’t underestimate the importance of creating space for dialogue and actively listening to understand as ways of ensuring your people feel valued and motivated to get the work done.
5. Encouraging feedback and engagement.
Giving and receiving feedback is one of the key skills that leaders at all levels need to master, and it becomes even more important as you move up the ladder. In senior leadership roles, executives need to be able to deliver effective feedback and should make it clear that they’re open to receiving it as well. Few individuals working under you will feel psychologically safe enough to offer candid comments and share crucial information unless you make an intentional effort at building trust, showing respect, and creating opportunities to provide input. If you make giving and requesting feedback a routine part of your daily interactions, this will become easier.
Do you have the skills to produce a sustained impact on your organization? Leading an organization can be a powerful and humbling experience. As a senior leader, you play an enormous role in the success of your organization, and you need to excel in these 5 ways. Download our leadership guide for senior executives below to uncover more valuable insights, tips, and examples.
Download White Paper
Download our senior executive leadership guide to access our research-backed recommendations for the 5 most critical areas in which C-suite leaders must excel to ensure success for themselves and their organizations.