TOP 8 Must-Have Skills for All C-Level Executives

C-level executives—otherwise known as C-suite or senior executives—are the highest ranking leaders of a business enterprise. They oversee major operations and have the last say in any decision that impacts the company. Needless to say, their roles are considered vital to the organization’s success. Managers who aspire to become a top-ranking executive must possess a specific combination of C-level executive skills.

C-level executives meaning

As mentioned, C-level is a term for senior executives with the highest ranking titles in an organization. The C stands for ‘chief’, as in chief operating officer (COO), chief executive officer (CEO), chief information officer (CIO), chief financial officer (CFO), and so on. If you consider it your career goal to become a C-level manager, here are eight fundamental C-level executive skills to ensure you’ll get all the way to the top.

c-level executive skills

1. Vision

A clear and strategic vision is an essential skill for a leader because it is how they can get their followers to understand and get on-board with their goals for the company. A leader with a vision can see the company’s future success and knows how to make it happen. Conversely, leaders with no vision will have no sense of direction for the company, and as such, will not be efficient in their position.

2. Adaptability

Business can be unpredictable, and fortunes can change in an instant. That’s why flexibility is one of the most important C-level executive skills to have. Being an adaptable leader means being able to think out of the box, having the courage to take risks, and being tenacious enough to see a problem through.

While adaptable C-level executives may rely on past knowledge and experience in formulating solutions, they are always open to other approaches, because they realize that what has worked in the past may not be applicable to the problem at hand.

3. Resiliency

Resilient managers not only have the ability to adapt, but also keep their cool and focus under pressure. They are better-equipped to cope with disruptions and rebound from setbacks—all without engaging in disorderly behavior or harming others. They are extremely resourceful, and are often able to make do with available resources in crafting solutions.

A crucial characteristic of high-performing leaders, resiliency is what makes the best C-level executives the most reliable people in a company when it comes to meeting adversity and helping the organization recover from it.

4. Communication

Effective C-level executives are able to communicate well with employees at every level. They can convey their ideas in a persuasive manner, and understand the value of employee input. Likewise, they spend a great deal of time listening to others—not only words, but also non-verbal cues and emotional states. They know full well that good leaders are good listeners, and strive to become both.

5. Leading by example

C-level officers who walk the walk and talk the talk demonstrate that they are invested in their team’s initiatives. Through leading by example, these managers promote a high level of engagement and buy-in from the employees under them. Modern employees want to see senior executives who do what they say and have their actions align with their core values.

6. Principles

Effective leaders are those who live and breathe the principles that they espouse. More than just leading by example, C-level managers must have an equally high-level statement of principles and make decisions guided by them while transparently adhering to the codes and standards set by social and cultural ethics. As consumers today demand more from the brands that they support, principled leadership can only become an increasingly coveted quality in C-level managers.

7. Innovation

Innovative C-level executive skills enable a senior executive to explore new ideas and strategies that have the potential to add great value to an organization. Enterprises today invest a lot of effort into staying relevant and creating a niche for their brands, and this is where innovative C-level executive skills come into play. Innovative managers are instrumental in shaping the processes necessary for the company to evolve and thrive in an ever-competitive industry.

8. Business acumen

With great power comes great responsibility, as they say, and with the immense power that senior-level executives wield, they have to consider beforehand how their decisions will impact the rest of the business before executing them. As such, C-level managers must have a keen awareness of their roles and responsibilities, more so than employees in junior roles.

Profitability, metrics, priorities, strategies—any leader in an organization must be comfortable with any issue relating to these business concerns. It’s what allows them to focus on what matters most for the company.

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