Stephan B. Breitfeld

By Stephan B. Breitfeld
Dec. 6, 2017

As an Executive Search consultant, I need to get into the mindset of the C-Suite all the time. I not only need to understand what the decision makers in a company need in leadership roles but must also assess peoples' abilities to succeed in C-level positions. Both aspects require a detailed and delicate understanding of what it takes to succeed in a senior management position. Don’t get me wrong – every person, company, culture and industry is very different, so there is not a single formula that fits every leadership position. However, there are certain traits, tendencies and skills that are found more often than not in most C-level leaders and a certain mindset that ensures success.

A Dual Mindset of Opposites

One of the things I have seen in C-level roles is that you need to master the art of being two opposing forces at the same time. You need to be open-minded and very focused, you need to let go and be in control, you need to constantly develop and be consistent. Successful leaders are able to do this and will thrive in a leadership position.

These leaders are open and constantly seeking information on interesting and relevant subjects that impact their business. They look for breadth as opposed to depth to keep pace with important industry models while learning as much as possible about specific topics key to indicating industry shifts. These leaders can switch from one perspective to the other and are masters at managing this dual mindset.

At The Core Of Decision Making

A key factor of being in the C-Suite is obviously “being in charge and taking charge”. Executives make critical decisions and must be able to think both vertically and horizontally to constantly build and drive the organisation. This requires a very process oriented approach and thorough knowledge of literally every part of the company. This interest cannot go away or fade over time.

Maximizing Peak Time

The mindset of the C-Suite is largely characterized by the fact that time is always of the essence. These people have all the time in the world if they need it and oddly never have time. Of course they don’t - look at their schedule! That’s why these leaders are absolutely great at efficiently using their peak and down time. More importantly they are highly engaged during these peak times and maximizing their time for the greatest good.

A Loyal Kind

I have observed that executives tend to be quite loyal when they have found something that works for them - which actually makes a lot of sense. For someone who doesn’t have the time, finding relevant direct reports or strategy is invaluable. It pays to invest in loyalty and relevancy when considering adding new C-Suite members to your senior management team. It can pay off greatly and be the basis for very strong relationships.

This article paraphrased from the original version found here:–-what-does-it-take

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