C-Suite-level jobs require meticulous experience and a proven ability to make a difference in an organization. If you are a customer success leader with the ultimate objective of obtaining a C-level position, this blog is specifically written for you.
As a customer success leader, you have just reached one milestone in your career. Still, to conquer Mount Everest (achieving a C-level position in an organization), you need to buckle yourself and corner various hurdles to be at the pinnacle of your career.
Before we rush ahead with the points to be taken care of, it is important to understand what exactly C-Suite is, how you can position yourself for specific roles effectively, and how you can build your career in executive management as a customer success leader in an organization.
What is C-Suite?
The word – C-Suite connotes the highest leadership position in an organization. Several titles come under the C-Suite, depending on the company and industry. But, primarily, the – C in the word means chief in different corporate titles like a chief operating officer (COO), chief executive officer (CEO), and chief financial officer (CFO).
The other name for C-Suite is C-level executives. The C-Suite members are the core leadership group of a company who lead the different departments in an organization. Each of these roles in the C-Suite work as a unit and make sure that its operations and strategies are in sync with its plans and policies.
How exactly should aspiring CS leaders work towards C-Suite level roles in an organization?
Proper networking within the industry, excelling in knowledge, and showing your expertise to higher authorities can help aspiring CS leaders work towards C-Suite-level roles in an organization.
But, we all know how tough it is to earn a C-Suite level position. Only a handful of people from the CS community end up earning the chief executive role. However, if you are up to the task, it is possible to work towards achieving some C-Suite level roles, even if you are an aspiring CS leader!
Here are some ways for aspiring CS leaders to climb up the ladder towards C-Suite level roles in an organization.
Through proper exposure and honing your management skills
There are very few companies that promote an employee within the company for the C-Suite. However, there are instances where high-level managers have an opportunity to compete for C-Suite-level management roles.
If you want to achieve this objective, it is important to work aggressively towards getting promotions and prove your leadership skills on top of industry expertise. You can do this by making an impact on the company in different roles that you perform as a CS leader.
On top of honing your management skills and leadership skills, you also need to give yourself adequate time to develop your vision for corporate success. One way to do it is by looking out for opportunities to showcase your thought leadership. You can do this by publishing personal blogs, getting industry publications, and participating on social media sites.
Once you position yourself as a thought leader with breakthrough ideas, you give yourself a chance to stand out from the rest of your colleagues in the organization.
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Taking the initiative during major changes in the organization
There are times when organizations go through a transition phase. It can even be due to mergers and acquisitions taking place in an organization. During such times, you have the opportunity to step into executive leadership roles. This can be an effect of consolidation and restructuring in the organization.
Your current role as a CS leader can become temporary after the merger or acquisition. During those tough times, if you can take the initiative and prove yourself, it can give you a perfect chance to position yourself as a top candidate for a future C-Suite job.
Provide consultative assistance
As a CS leader, if you can gain expertise in providing consultative assistance to different departments in the organization, it can position you as an industry expert. This can prove to be a stepping stone to joining the C-Suite.
If you take the consultant route to the C-Suite, it can open new doors in the career. Make strategies to gain experience from some of the biggest names in the industry so that you can leverage those connections at a later date.
Connecting with a board member for learning the nuances attached
As a CS leader, if you can connect with the board member of your company, it can expand your vision and give you exposure to their unique way of making decisions, managing the tasks, and their invaluable leadership insights. It can give you a higher perspective that can help you make the right preparatory steps towards the C-Suite level in your organization.
Search for a mentor who can show you the way to the top
Once you tell a C-Suite executive how much you admire them and wish them to be your mentor, it can open doors for your career. They can even help you ascertain whether you are fit for a C-Suite level position. Never miss out on an opportunity to ask them to provide an honest opinion about your strengths and key areas for improvement. This will help you improve your chances of being competitive in your field in the near future.
Six must-have skills that customer success leaders must develop to become C-Suite executives in your organization
C-Suite executives must have a strong skill set that is directly connected to their role. While most of them will directly depend upon their roles, here are some essential skills that the customer success leaders must develop to become C-Suite executives in your organization.
Quick and effective decision-making ability
In this fast-paced corporate world, C-Level executives must make major decisions on the move. To become a part of the C-Suite, you must have quick and effective decision-making ability.
Accumulating data, scrutinizing results, and weighing in the opinions are some things that CS leaders need to develop to become C-Suite level executives in your organization. You should also know how to select and commit to courses of action as efficiently as possible.
Persuasive communication skills
The role of chief officers requires them to share ideas, delegate tasks, and make plans continuously. To ensure that you reach the position of C-Suite executive, as a customer success leader, you must develop persuasive communication skills. You should know how to communicate your thoughts clearly in writing and aloud.
Managing the risk factor like a pro
As an aspiring C-Suite executive, as a customer success leader you must understand how to access risks and when to take them to take over high-level leadership roles. There will be times when strategies do not go as per the plan; this is where you need to know when to change track and take responsibility. This is especially critical when facing a substantial challenge, and being resilient is your only option.
Keeping track of time to ensure proper work-life balance
As a customer success leader, you might have spent hours dealing with your team. But, on a C-Suite level, things are a bit different. You need to work hard with long hours. However, you also need to keep track of time to ensure a healthy work environment. If your employees can manage work-life balance properly, it can make them work efficiently.
Burned-out executives can rarely become good leaders or guide their teams from a fresh perspective. This is where excellent project management skills and a healthy approach to work can make you stand out as a strong candidate for the C-Suite position.
Build personal brand
You might never have contemplated building your personal brand as a CS leader. You might think of it to be a waste of time. But, if you wish to achieve a C-Suite level position, you need to build your brand. You can start by contributing as a writer on LinkedIn.
Once you are comfortable publishing your posts on LinkedIn, I suggest you slowly move towards Medium and Entrepreneur.com. You can even contribute to Quora. This will give you the much-needed mileage and make people recognize your worth. If you get in the eyes of the top management, the C-Suite level position will not be far from reach!
Leadership qualities are a must for any position, especially for the C-Suite level. It helps you manage the entire organization effectively. As a CS leader, you need to know how to lead by example and guide your team and the company towards challenging positions. The leadership style you opt for ultimately should showcase that you are responsible, spirited, and dedicated.31
Getting into the C-level is a dream for every aspiring customer success leader. By following the things, we have mentioned in this blog, you can live that dream. So, what is stopping you from practicing the skillsets that we have mentioned in this write-up? Start today and reap the dividends in the times to come!
Dattatraya Shetty is an IT Professional with 2 Decades of experience in areas of Product Development, Implementation & Service Delivery Management. As the Head of Implementations and SOC Compliance in Smartkarrot he is on a mission to provide relishing customer experience.
Published January 24, 2022, Updated February 28, 2023