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9 Ways to Survive in the C-Level Suite

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Being in the corporate world is like a staircase. Once you reach the top, there is no other way, but to go down. But if you have the right skills and characteristics, you can definitely stay on top.

As we all know, everybody can be a leader. The question here is longevity and the kind of legacy that your leadership leaves behind. We have highlighted below the 10 ways to survive in the C-Level Suite:


  • Use various leadership styles depending on the kind of situation you are currently in – This is “no brainer”.  You can’t use a directive style when you have a very skilled team because this would demotivate them. At the same time, you can’t use a participative style when there is a crisis because you have to make quick decisions.

  • Acquire technical skills related to the latest trends in business – Remember the time when people in the office still use a typewriter? With the increasing dominance of personal computers in the 80s up to the early 90s, knowledge in word processors became one of the important skills that an office worker should have at that time. This also applies to Executive Level leaders. If we dwell on traditional means and neglect to up-skill yourself, you will surely be left behind after a few years.
  • Excel at team and relationship building – As the saying goes, “No man is an island.” An organization needs a “leader” and not a “boss”. A boss would be behind his desk and takes out orders, while a leader will go out of his office and work with his team.  A boss inspires fear while a leader generates respect. A boss will micromanage while a leader delegates.  A boss is focused on progress, while a leader focuses on its people. Whether they are subordinates, colleagues or stakeholders, a C-level executive should learn how to build teams and relationships because in the long run, the success of the organization comes from, not only a great leader, but also, from the hard work of the team and the healthy relationship with the stakeholders.
  • Develop strategic thinking and execution – A C-level executive should learn how to  think strategically, especially on a global basis. Knowing how to set the strategic direction of the organization and to execute its vision will make any executive a valuable asset to the company.
  • Demonstrate communication and presentation skills – Part of being a great leader is being a great communicator. Can you send your message across resulting in positive outputs? Are you receptive about varying views which can sometimes contradict your opinions or beliefs? Do you welcome constructive criticism? When you are asked to present a topic, how convincing are you especially when you present your case? Do you seek consensus in terms of making an important decision? These are very important to consider if you wanted to thrive in this business.
  • Adopt change-management skills – This is relatively a new skill that is sought for by HR Executives. If the organization is under a new management or is moving to another location or is restructuring, a leader who can manage these changes is necessary for its success. This is a valuable add-on to any C-level executive.
  • Exude integrity – This is not really a skill, but an important characteristic that any Executive Level leaders should have. Nothing beats a leader with strong moral principles!
  • Be emphatic – Just like integrity, empathy another essential characteristic. This pertains to putting yourself on “other people’s shoe” to understand where they are coming from and why they are acting that way. This is different from sympathy wherein you feel pity toward other people’s misfortune.
  • Show your learning agility – Nothing is permanent, but change. As mentioned earlier, an organization might be subjected to change so an Executive leader should be ready for it. Your learning curve should be short because you have to be ahead of your competitors.


What other skills do you think executives need to be successful now and what skills will they need in the future? We’d love to hear your ideas. Please type in your comments below.

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