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Eyeing a Move to the C-Suite? These 3 Skills Will Get You There

A new generation of top execs has come into power over the last few years that don't look much like their predecessors, at least in terms of skills. They aren't necessarily the most technically brilliant at preparing a forecast, nor are they Zen masters of the supply chain.

Sure, those capabilities helped them rise up in the organization, but it's not what got them to the C-Suite, according to an article in the March issue of Harvard Business Review. What skills need to be in your toolbox to make it to the very top?

Soft ones.

"Technical skills are merely a starting point, the bare minimum," write authors Boris Groysberg, L. Kevin Kelly, and Bryan MacDonald in The New Path to the C-Suite. "To thrive as a C-level executive, an individual needs to be a good communicator, a collaborator, and a strategic thinker -- and we think the trend toward a general business orientation over a functional orientation will continue."

Relying on interviews and examination of hundreds of executive profiles developed by the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, the authors lay out the new job requirements for seven positions: CIO, chief marketing and sales officer, CFO, general counsel, chief supply-chain-management officer, chief human resource officer, and CEO.

For example, here are the new requirements to take the head marketing position in your firm.

  • Significant in-sector experience.
  • Experience handling the marketing challenges and opportunities presented by new channels.
  • Ability to serve as the CEO's single point of contact for marketing, sales, and e-commerce.
  • Sophisticated technology know-how, as some distribution becomes more channel neutral; skill at managing relationships between commercial and technology executives.
  • Crisis and reputation management skills.
  • The ability to promote transparency and manage customer communities and public conversations.
Check out the full article to see what skills you'll need to get to "chief of" status.

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(Photo by Flickr user KellyK, CC 2.0)
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