I believe there are three things every C-Suite executive needs and these hold true whether one is operating in a very small or very large company. While the bar is much higher at the top of Fortune 500 organizations than in smaller companies, the same skill sets are required in order to ensure that the organization is successful. Few things in business are as important as a well functioning executive suite (although in small companies, the suite probably doesn’t consist of the spacious offices expensive furnishings and executive assistants the make up a larger company c-suite).
First, every individual on the executive team needs bring to the table a domain expertise (finance, marketing, operations, human resources, etc). One of the reasons for their presence is that they are experts in their field. Further, a broad cross section of all disciplines must be represented in the C-Suite. What business can be successful if it understands production but doesn’t have a clue about how to market its product or service?
Second, every executive needs to be well rounded. They must have a working knowledge of other key domain areas. The marketing executive must understand the finances of the business just as the finance executive needs to understand the marketing approach. If members of the executive team don’t understand and appreciate each other’s worlds then it is next to impossible for them to make the trade-offs that are inevitable in any business. Resources are finite so there is always a balancing act as dollars are traded between different priorities. Unless all of the executives have an appreciation for the other displaces, then you have a land grab for resources as opposed to decisions made with the goal of advancing the company. I’ve seen this in companies both large and small.
Finally, every executive needs to demonstrate the Seven Critical Business Skills of the C-Suite. And every executive must have every skill set. Without even one of them, they simply cannot operate an optimum level.
1. Vision. Each executive must have a view of where they want the company and their particular department to be in the future. They must have a view of the environment in which they operate and be able to conceptualize how that might change in the future. Without vision, they are simply responding to the moment and in all likelihood remaining stagnant (or falling behind).
2. Drive. They must have the motivation to get to a new and better place. C-Suite executives are never satisfied with the status quo. They are seeking to improve performance in some way every day.
3. Problem Solving. They can grasp the problem that they are facing and develop a solution. The solution must have a reasonable chance of success.
I rarely continue newsletters from month to month but I am making an exception.
I’ll present the four remaining members of the Seven Critical Business Skills of the C-Suite next month.
If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to
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