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Becoming a C-Level Executive: The Upward Path

The business world is rapidly changing, and it seems like things happen twice as fast as before. Some days it feels like taking a power nap is going to leave you way behind in the leadership race. For aspiring leaders who also want to stay abreast of the developments of groundbreaking projects and successful companies, it can be exhausting to keep up. It used to be that you just had to figure out how to become a memorable leader. Now, the real question is, how do you do that and keep yourself updated with the latest trends and strategies used by top executives all around the world when everything is going so undeniably fast?

What type of knowledge do you need? When it comes to the C-Level type of executive, technical expertise and specific knowledge become second nature while leadership and communication skills become better predictors of success in your new chief role. But before we talk about leadership, let’s make something clear. Practical experience and company knowledge are vital for an aspiring leader, and everyone expects you to have it. Unfortunately, that alone won’t make you valuable enough to become a C-Level leader. Instead, if you really join the C-suite, you must be able to understand the impact your company has on multiple levels. This includes the global scale of political, economic, social and legal aspects. You must become aware of your surroundings in a way that allows you to be your organization’s compass for the journey to the future. It might sound too poetic, but being a leader requires drive, purpose and a little bit of motivational speaking from time to time. Use it wisely.

Measuring results and using empathy Many aspiring leaders have difficulties grasping the idea of flexibility and tolerance. The truth is, you work with people with different personalities, different backgrounds, and work habits. Now, it isn’t about knowing every little detail about your employees; it’s about caring genuinely for them while understanding how their individual traits reflect on their work habits and how that adjusts your goals and planning. Your life as a C-Level Executive won’t be easy, but it will be fulfilling. You will often find yourself juggling with your personal life, video calls, flights, and meetings. And while exciting, this might make you feel disconnected and with little to no time to spend time with all your employees. That’s why you want to build trust around your presence; you want them to be able to open up about what’s important to them along with any situation that might arise that could affect their work. Never neglect your employees because you have no time, or you might compromise your perceived leadership. Find a moment. Listen intently and your team will make sure that everything goes as planned.

Understanding your leadership traits If you’ve come this far, and you long to be a leader, you must be familiar with the different types of leadership. Regardless of the taxonomy or theory, you want to adhere to, what’s really important is to understand how your leadership style affects different employees. For some employees, an authoritarian style might reduce their productivity and foster tensions that could bring unnecessary conflicts. On the other hand, while transformational styles might not be the cup of tea of an employee who’s going through a tough time – change and the will to be transformed is strictly correlated to personal timing and you might be hindering an employee’s progress while you think you’re doing them a favor. The reason why you need to understand your leadership traits is so you can adapt, as much as humanly possible, to what your team needs. Yes, there will be times when this is impossible and that’s part of being a great leader. Be Real. Take your time to open up and be genuine. If you’re being too harsh because you’re focusing on efficiency, let them know and make sure they can open up and be honest about how that hinders or motivates them. If you’re embracing a paternalistic style you fear may be having negative effects on someone’s behavior. Take the time to speak up individually and make the necessary changes. Your ability to communicate is your biggest strength. Make sure to talk when it’s needed, how it’s needed, and where it’s needed.

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