As a member of your company’s executive team, you have a lot on your plate. And, particularly in middle market companies, C-suite executives have some unique challenges that other leaders may not face. According to an article in Forbes, "The best leaders today combine agility and emotional intelligence with innovative thinking and an inclusive mindset. They must be adaptable and able to pivot quickly with sudden market changes in an uncertain economic and geopolitical climate.” If this sounds a little overwhelming to you, it does to me, too. In addition to these lofty expectations, today’s execs face some concrete problems.
Here are a few challenges faced by the modern C-Suite:
- Leadership - You set the tone for the rest of the company. People are watching you—your work habits, your leadership style, your communication (or lack thereof) are all key elements that your teams observe and internalize as part of the company’s culture. You have to be on your game to retain your top players and grow the next generation of leaders in your company. And, you are facing new leadership challenges in the form of increased competition for top talent due our historically low unemployment rate.
- Alignment - You may not always agree with the other members of your executive team…and this is something that can have a negative impact as it trickles further into the organization. Silos in departments often result from C-level leaders who directly or indirectly clash with others. You may think you are presenting a united front, but subtle remarks can undermine this effort; things like encouraging the team to spend all the budget so you don’t lose it for next year or openly competing for resources or even using phrases like “they decided” when sharing company plans can portray lack of alignment and discourage collaboration.
- Strategy Iteration - In middle market companies, things are often shifting quickly and your strategy needs to be agile. You need a mechanism or a process for strategy iteration so you can respond quickly and effectively to changing market conditions. According to a study cited in the Wall Street Journal, "only 8% of all executives are good at both strategy and execution—that is, betting on the right strategy and doing the right things to make it happen.” This is certainly a challenge and an opportunity to create a competitive advantage for your team by iteratively creating a viable growth strategy AND executing it successfully.
- Communication - This one is likely a challenge company-wide…but like everything else, the problem starts with the top leaders in the company. Effective communication is often undervalued and relegated to the “soft skill” set. However, you can’t hope to compel your company to strive for your ambitious growth goals and remain engaged and committed to the vision without exercising this vital skill. You can have the best strategy in the world, but unless you ensure it is shared and received, it will never come to fruition. And, now more than ever, there are many ways to communicate, and people are bombarded by a constant stream of messages. Ensuring you are personally productive and communicate effectively to your team in a way that breaks through the noise is indeed a real challenge.
- Innovation and Technology - According to a recent survey of C-Suite leaders, "businesses are focused on competing in the digital world and reinventing themselves through digital transformation, new strategies, organizational culture, and attracting and retaining talent…” We all hear the buzz words “disruption” and “innovation” constantly as companies are trying not only to keep up with new technology popping up all around us but also reinvent their own industries and business models. This requires more than an entrepreneur with a eureka moment—you need a process for coming up with innovative ideas and a culture that encourages and empowers your teams to do the same.
At Rhythm Systems, we’ve been focused for over a decade on helping your entire organization succeed by implementing our Think-Plan-Do methodology and software platform and cascading it throughout your entire organization. However, in recognition of these unique challenges specific to the executive team, we’ve recently launched a toolset exclusively for the C-Suite—one that is designed to address each of the challenges above and is tailored to fit your unique needs. We’d love to talk with you more about how we can help you and your executive team succeed.
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