In the song “New York, New York,” Frank Sinatra sings that he wants to find himself “king of the hill, top of the heap.” But what does that mean, exactly? At NGL, we regularly coach aspiring CxO’s who are looking for an answer to that most enticing question: What’s next? There are no simple answers, but the C-suite is where the buck stops, and where a new kind of responsibility begins. Here are some things you may not have considered yet.
Nobody wants a CxO candidate
Leadership is not for the faint of heart. But being eager for the challenge isn’t the same as being ready. Simply put, if you’re aiming for C-level because you’ve got something to prove, you don’t have the right stuff. Nobody is looking for a CxO candidate—instead, the Board needs to feel comfortable that you are the leader already. That requires a certain level of autonomous thinking and self-belief. If you doubt yourself, you won’t give others a reason to have confidence in you. That’s why being a leader is as much about personality and autonomy as is it about experience. When you take on the mantle of leadership, it’s time to start giving back.
Career planning is dead, long live impact
Stepping into the shoes of leadership is never “the next right move.” Because when what’s next is a CxO position, it’s all about impact. And mind you, impact is not the same thing as (past) performance. Impact is all about authenticity and perseverance.
What’s more, impact is a choice—it’s a matter of focus, determined by what makes you you. So be true to yourself, choose what and how you want to contribute, and stick with it. Only then can your impact be an act of generosity, carrying forward what you have learned.
Marathon runners, heart surgeons, and opera singers don’t just wake up one morning and say: Hey, today I’m going to do something truly awesome. They know that the secret to being exceptional at what you do is to be ready, and to be fit. Physically, mentally and spiritually. Remember, as a leader you’re not playing a role or performing a task or achieving a target. What will make you a great leader is what first makes you a good, well-balanced person. On that matter, be sure to check out Gijs’s blog on vitality.
Your path is the only path
It’s easy to identify what you don’t want. It’s also easy to let the market dictate what “opportunities” you could pursue. But following the market’s lead will never make you a ‘CxO material’. To be at home as a CxO, you’ll need to be autonomous and focus on what you do want. At this particular juncture, what brought you this far won’t take you any further. It’s being true to yourself and having a positive focus that will show you the way to that top of the heap.
Need to explore more? Give us a call.
By Bercan Günel, Executive Coach NGL International
01 February 2021