The new breed of executive: C-suite skills you need to succeed

By Robert Half on 12th March 2018

For many professionals, reaching a C-suite position is the ultimate career goal. A report by Robert Half, which surveyed over 200 CFOs and 100 CIOs across the UK, has shown that a new breed of executive is required if businesses are going to match the pace of change in industry and reach growth targets. 

Take advantage of recent research and find out which C-suite skills will propel your career forwards even further. 

1.    Be forward-thinking

Having the ability to support a digital future is one of the C-suite skills many businesses are deliberately searching for in an executive candidate. 

The influx of new technologies and evolving customer expectations require a leader that is both technologically savvy and willing to adapt in order to take the company forward. This may involve the identification of software which improves the customer experience, streamlining internal processes with new tech, or quickly identifying and adapting to trends.

Related: Digital transformation and the future of hiring

2.    Data and business acumen

The fast interpretation of data, supported by the ability to take a global view, are desirable C-suite skills for business longevity. This level of awareness will become essential as digital progress closes the gaps between communities and countries. 

Where businesses once reviewed their competition on a 2 – 5 year timeline, they’re now forced to pick up the pace significantly to avoid losing market share. Smart business decisions and strategic planning require a leader that can interpret data and act quickly. Our research shows that 42% of businesses see data analysis as a desirable skill to support the transformation and growth of their business. 

3.    A collaborative attitude

Our report into happiness at work has shown that employees are at their most productive and satisfied when they’re empowered and trusted to make decisions themselves. A shift towards agile work processes means more communication between teams and executives to achieve project aims—executives should lead by example in this.

Similarly, research into the digitisation of the workplace has shown that the C-suite are no longer the only individuals with the ability to understand the full impact of digital. Encouraging empowerment and an open dialogue could well be the key to driving the company forward, as especially as 40% of existing C-suite professionals state that communication skills will be key to the future of business. 

4.    A leader of cultural change

Having the ability to lead cultural change as a member of the C-suite applies to implementing/sustaining a DevOps methodology and also to having the soft skills needed to promote and maintain a positive company culture. 

Maintaining both requires C-suite leaders who are committed to hiring culturally appropriate professionals and who are invested in encouraging career and skill development to support the digital shift. 

5.    Adaptability

When considering skills C-suite executives need, adaptability is one of the most desirable. Great leaders should be able to adapt their management style to suit the needs of the individuals on their teams, which is proven to illicit a far better performance from them.

If you’d like to get hired for a C-suite role or are looking for new executive opportunities, get in touch with the team at Robert Half Executive Search today.

Robert Half Executive Search specialises in the search for and placement of executive leadership talent across a broad spectrum of function areas and industry sectors. Contact the Executive Search team today to learn more.

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