There has been an evolution of C-Suite executives in the last decade. In addition to having industry expertise and financial acumen, C-Suite executives who are better relationship builders, adept communicators, problem solvers, and good listeners are the need of the hour.
Traditionally, C-Suite-level executives would land jobs easily if they had superior administrative, technical and financial skills. Now, one more C-Suite skill matters – and it matters the most – the social skills! An article at HR Daily Advisor quotes, “Leadership must strike a balance between the needs of the two former management models, which calls for “alignment and coherence” in order to keep up with a globalized, shifting business landscape and to do so in a logical, unified manner companywide”
Businesses today operate in a people-centric manner because they cannot run without their people. By ‘people,’ we mean shareholders, board members, employees, customers, the public, regulators, activists, and every human involved in making the business idea work.
The C-Suite executives must walk along with the people to experience sustainable growth. For this, the key executives must develop softer skills beyond set theories and management lessons.
Evolution of C-Suite sees ‘Softer’ Skills in Demand
C-Suite executives of any field – human resources, administration, technology, marketing – need strong people-oriented social skills that make them more human and less machine.
The most-wanted soft skills include the ability to listen, communicate, empathize and act. While being at the top, the C-Suite executive is expected to infer how others think and feel.
Self-awareness is another major skill that comes with practice. C-Suite executives are expected to look within and analyze every doubt, opportunity, intuition, and belief that makes them better leaders.
Strong social skills are most required when the base of business is effective communication and coordination. If the chief executive officer does not communicate goals clearly, the disparate workforce won’t be able to work towards a common goal. If the chief marketing officer does not allow team members to open up and share opinions freely, some creative marketing ideas will never see the light of day. If the chief technology officer does not provide a platform for innovations, the organization will never progress on the technology front.
C-Suite executives can make a real difference by communicating clear information, facilitating the exchange of ideas, building and overseeing teams, and identifying and solving problems.
Why Are Social Skills in C-Suite Executives Gaining Prominence?
The unprecedented changes brought about by the pandemic have made it even more crucial that leaders are good, empathetic communicators. It has provided a once-in-lifetime opportunity for C-Suite executives to evolve in many ways. The leadership of this era is not expected to focus only on holistic business matters but also on people-related concerns at deeper, granular levels.
During the peak of the pandemic, businesses suffered heavy losses. The uncertainty, job insecurity, and fear for life increased organizational chaos, directly impacting workforce performance. It was evident that if panic continued, the losses would keep multiplying. Despite having the best technology, systems, and processes in place, nothing changes if people are not in the right mindset to use the available resources. Seniors realized that while working on ‘returning’ and ‘reimagining’, they also had to ensure it all happened smoothly without convoluting situations and sending wrong messages.
Businesses now understand that they will have to break the hierarchical way of communication to build transparent and trustworthy systems. Effective execution of an open-door policy can enable inclusivity and strengthen bonds with employees.
The automated way of working
Most organizations have invested in automating systems and processes to accelerate the pace of deliveries and generate better outcomes. Automation has freed up employees’ time, giving them opportunities for higher-order thinking. They can use the time to brainstorm, plan, and create better ways of operations. It involves better collaboration and communication, not just with peers but also with key executives.
Organization’s size and complexity
The evolution of C-Suite executives has led to the need for stronger social skills when the business is supported by mergers and acquisitions, public relations, and shareholder involvement. When the people of a business have strong voices, the key executives have to build stronger relations to keep a tab on brand reputation.
Also, to keep multiple teams and departments focused on common goals, the key executives have to communicate the core messages repeatedly to imbibe the vision, mission, purpose, and values in people’s psyche.
Brand Reputation in a world driven by social media
C-Suite executives have to have a strong hold on their social presence by saying and doing the right thing, as now it does not take time to tarnish images on social media. While social media lets people voice their opinions easily, it also enables key executives to control and reverse the damage as soon as it comes to their notice. But for that, an important social skill of being aware, compassionate, and up-to-date is essential.
Customers and employees are becoming more and more aware of their rights. A change of mindset by developing stronger inter-and-intra-personal skills can truly lead C-Suite executives toward building a better ecosystem for all.
PMC provides proven tools to help involve and engage people for workplace improvement; tools that supervisors can use for innovation and active workplace involvement. If you’d like to learn more, we’re here to support you.