Essential Skills for C-Suite Executives
The most recent issue of the Harvard Business Review features an article titled “The C-Suite Skills That Matter Most…More than ever, companies need leaders who are good with people.” No kidding!
To be sure, technical skills, strong business and financial acumen, a savvy sense of markets and administrative/organizational ability are still on the list of requirements for executive success. These are best deployed by individuals who have superior interpersonal skills and, yes are “good with people.”
Some years ago, more than one hundred industry companies were identified as posting superior results, each quarter over a period of ten consecutive years. They significantly outperformed industry averages in areas including organic sales growth, value added, profitability and employee and customer retention. As part of an academic research study, we endeavored to find out more about these businesses and, in particular, their CEO’s and their relationship with their leadership teams.
Three survey instruments were used and were complimented by in-depth interviews with the CEO’s. The baseline for leadership competencies was built upon James MacGregor Burns’ two primary types of leadership; transactional (where leaders focus on the relationship between the leader and the follower) and transformational (where leaders focus on the beliefs, needs and values of their followers).
Among the conclusions of this study, these highly successful leaders were overwhelming viewed as transformational by the leaders themselves and by their leadership teams. Two traits stood out: humility and empathy. In other words, “good with people.”
These executive leaders placed great emphasis on relationships with stakeholders and credited this as a major reason for their sustained success.
Clearly, being “good with people” is not something that is nice to have but not essential to success. Combined with other needed attributes, highly developed interpersonal skills can spell the difference between average to good performance and sustained, superior results. These skills are anything but “soft.” And they can be taught, developed, practiced, and improved with intention and dedication over time.
For more information on determining your C-Suite’s level of leadership competency, contact me at email@example.com.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.