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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What’s the Best Path to the C-Suite?

 
For many, the job of the CEO looks like hard work.  On the surface, observers see high responsibility, long hours and the weight of the company on the shoulders of a CEO.  When you peel off the layers and look closer, you see the keys to move up the corporate ladder have more to do with
what you create than typical hard work. 

While responsibility, accountability and integrity are the essential foundations of leadership, they are not the engines that drive CEO success.  A big part of the engine that drives their success can be uncovered in their language.  You will hear him or her talk about what the organization is committed to and what it stands for.  You often hear them talk about a new and exciting future that is missing in society.  And you watch the consistency of their actions match their words.

The action of an up and coming executive who wants to move up the ladder is to create projects.  For example, Howard Shultz founded Starbucks to match what he stood for.  He saw a new and exciting future for American culture.  It is said that Shultz was vacationing in Europe.  While there, he noticed activity in cafes.  Over coffee, people were living and loving friends, family, colleagues and life.  In Europe, coffee was not simply a drink to keep you awake.  It was the center of life and a part of daily celebrations. 

In the US, coffee was something prepared at home or purchased on the way to work.  Regardless of where it was consumed, it served as a necessary stimulant to jump start the day or give a burst of energy throughout the day.

In Shultz’s mind, the US was missing out on this celebratory culture of a life that revolved around coffee.  He also thought there was no place for this celebratory act to exist.  In the US, people have two primary places for activity.  One is home.  Two is work.  Shultz said there was no third place. 

Howard Shultz stood for people being able to enjoy coffee in an environment that would be conducive for pleasure or work.  He declared that Starbucks would be the third place for people live, celebrate and work over a delicious cup of coffee. 

In the beginning, this was simply an idea for Shultz.  At some point, it became a project that required specific actions and the support of others.

For those of you who aspire the C-Suite, new initiatives are a powerful way to make your presence known in your company.  In some cases, you volunteer for the difficult projects no one wants.  In other cases, you create breakthrough projects that enhance your enterprise’s competitive advantage. 

What’s most critical about managing projects is the ability to produce results through others.  If you work in a large or medium sized corporation, you will also have to display your ability to collaborate across the company with different departments.  To do this effectively, it is critical to become clear about what you stand for.  Your stand becomes the platform for others to join you.  Furthermore, your initiative must also stand for something.  That becomes the catalyst that gives people something to believe in and be part of.  It is the vision that is bigger than the individual and requires effort by the masses.  This was the case for Howard Shultz.  It was the same when John F. Kennedy declared a man to the moon. 

With that said, if you are committed to being a C-Level executive, start to brainstorm with colleagues about what’s missing in the world.  Get clear about what you stand for and the actions you and others will need to take to move your idea to fruition. 
   
What do you think? I would love to hear your feedback. And I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, connect through my blog www.turnaroundip.blogspot.com.






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