Climbing the corporate ladder all the way to the top is a common goal of many high-achieving professionals. No matter which rung you’re on, there’s always steps you can take to help you achieve that goal. From building a positive track record to taking leadership development training, there are a number of ways you can build the skills and the experience necessary to succeed in the C-suite.
Here, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council share this advice and more, recommending some of the steps a professional can take now if they want to be a desirable future candidate for the C-suite and why doing these things will help set them up for success.
1. Network With Highly Connected Professionals
It’s vital to start building relationships with potential mentors and industry figures now. Networking builds credibility and trust, but establishing genuine relationships with successful businesspeople will help open doors for future opportunities. The key is not just exchanging business cards or having coffee meetings; it’s about understanding how you can add value to each other’s lives and careers. When you have a good relationship with highly connected individuals in the industry, you not only become an attractive candidate for executive roles, but you may also be able to tap into their resources when needed. Building these relationships takes time, so get started, reach out and let people know who you are. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
2. Build A Track Record Of Success
Building a track record of success is critical for professionals who aspire to reach the C-suite. C-suite executives are expected to have a history of delivering results and achieving success in their roles. It means taking on challenging projects, delivering results and continuously improving their skills and knowledge. One way to build a track record of success is by taking on challenging projects that stretch one’s abilities and skills. This could be a high-profile project within the company or a volunteer or leadership role within a professional organization. By taking on these types of projects, professionals will demonstrate their ability to handle complex and challenging situations and their willingness to take on more responsibility. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day
3. Develop Excellent Communication Skills
You’ll need to build excellent communication skills. We are a professional services firm, providing HR and accounting professionals to businesses of all sizes. We need to be able to communicate effectively and proactively as our clients are running their businesses using the advice and strategies of our COOs and CFOs. Someone who is a good communicator is able to bring out the best in people. They are able to lead and get people on board with ideas. They use their words to gain consensus and to explain what they need and when they need it. – Jennifer A Barnes, Optima Office, Inc.
4. Stay Up To Date On Industry News
Most C-suite candidates are usually thought leaders who are always ready and capable of contributing toward the company’s success in a meaningful way. So if you want to make it to the C-suite, you have to prepare yourself to be someone like that. One way of doing that is to stay up to date on the latest trends, updates and news about your industry. This needs your commitment to remain knowledgeable and relevant in your field. Try to read more every day. Be active in communities in your niche and follow the trends. This will help you stay relevant and know what’s happening in your industry. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
5. Take Leadership Development Training
C-suite roles demand creative and management skills from employees, and this is what leadership training is about. For any professional looking to make it to the C-suite one day, taking leadership development training is a great place to start. Leadership training can come in many forms and will provide you with the skills and knowledge for success in higher-level positions. It can be formal, such as attending seminars or workshops, or informal, such as shadowing another senior executive or taking on project leadership. It is also a starting point for the employee to understand their professional goals by creating action plans tailored toward achieving them. An employee with clarity of professional vision is a desirable future candidate for the C-suite. – Tonika Bruce, Lead Nicely, Inc.
6. Cultivate A Selfless, Fearless Mindset
Aspiring executives seeking to reach the C-suite should cultivate a selfless and fearless mindset when tackling business problems. C-level executives must prioritize the company’s success over their personal or team interests. To demonstrate this, consider sacrificing your own projects if they hold minimal significance to the business. To approach challenges objectively, try to detach yourself from the situation and view it as an outsider. Adopting a clear and rational perspective toward business challenges will increase your chances of becoming a key decision-maker. – Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com
7. Sharpen Your People Skills
A professional who wants to make it to the C-suite needs to start honing their people skills. Building strong relationships with colleagues and clients is key in any field, but especially so in upper management roles. Developing interpersonal skills such as active listening, empathy and collaboration can demonstrate to future employers that you are capable of leading a team, managing difficult conversations and thinking outside the box. Learning how to interact effectively with others not only builds your own confidence, but it also helps you stand out from other candidates when it comes time to apply for C-suite positions. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
8. Build A Strong Personal Brand
If a professional wants to make it to the C-suite one day, one thing they should start doing now is building a strong personal brand. By creating a personal brand, you establish yourself as an authority in your industry, and it showcases your unique value proposition. This will make you stand out as a desirable candidate for future C-suite roles. Building a personal brand involves consistently sharing valuable insights, building relationships and creating a consistent image across all your digital platforms. Having a strong personal brand will set you up for success because it demonstrates to potential employers that you have a clear understanding of your strengths, you are passionate about your industry and you have the ability to communicate your value effectively. – Abhijeet Kaldate, Astra WordPress Theme
9. Become An Expert In Your Field
The key element to being a C-suite candidate is to become an expert in your field. Most C-suite candidates have been at their jobs for 10 years or more, so it’s important to stay in one field, preferably at one company. The one thing someone aiming for that level can do to prepare is to pick a field and career they know they will commit to for the long term and become exceptionally good at it. You will need to outpace others in expertise and in work ethic, so maintain that consistency. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure