Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

What do C level officers do? 21: reconsidering the senior executive team and its members from a jobs and careers perspective

Posted in career development, HR and personnel, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on March 21, 2015

This is my 21st posting to a series on what C level officers of a business or organization do, that specifically emerge as job requirements for the senior leadership of an organization (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 376 and following for Parts 1-20.)

I have devoted most of the discussion of this series to an analysis of a progression of C level roles and positions that can arise and have to be fulfilled in a business (in Postings 2-11, and 15-20) and have focused from a business and organizational perspective on how teams of such executives can be fit together, collectively meeting the diverse leadership and senior management requirements of the organization and without gaps or unnecessary duplications (see Postings 12-14.) My goal for this series installment is to return this discussion to its Part 1 roots and to the more general issues that any senior level executive, or would-be senior level executive needs to address in seeking out a C level position, and then in fulfilling it.

I begin this at the beginning, and with the assessment that you need to do, and both of yourself and your strengths, weaknesses and needs, and of the type of position that you would pursue. Know yourself and be honest with yourself as to what you do well and in identifying areas that you find challenging. Really think through what you like to do and do not like to do, and what your priorities are in all of that. If you primarily enjoy directly, hands-on working on hands-on technical and specialty-skills problems, then management, and certainly senior level management might not be a good career choice for you. If you find your deepest satisfaction in organizing larger efforts and in working with other people and with teams and larger complex teams, facilitating their collective efforts to resolve larger, complex, multi-specialty problems and challenges, then management and senior level management might be a good career goal for you.

As an executive officer who is responsible for managing a large and diverse team that holds overall responsibility for a major functional area in a business, you are not likely to have opportunity to do any hands-on specialty work of this overall work flow yourself. You will primarily manage others so as to better facilitate their being able to do that work. And in a large and complex organization, a C level officer primarily works directly with other managers and relatively senior ones, who themselves no longer carry out direct hands-on functional specialty work either. Know what you value and prefer in what you do, and where your strengths are and pursue what you would find the most long-term satisfaction in doing.

I couched that in terms of positives, and understanding what you would move towards. I have met a significant number of managers who have moved into more senior executive positions as a way to move away from an undesirable too. And one point of dissatisfaction that can form a springboard to success as a manager and as a senior executive, can be found in the frustration of seeing management and leadership performed badly – and really thinking through positive alternatives to the negative examples that they set. Note that I just flipped that around from negative and moving away from, to the positive and moving and building towards. Even if your initial source of impetus here is to move past and away from negative workplace frustrations and barriers, long-term, you need to be specifically moving towards a more positive alternative to them too if you are to succeed. “Anything except …” does not and cannot work in and of itself.

Know yourself and be honest with yourself; simply seeking out a work position and career path just because you think you probably should pursue it, is more likely to lead you into career paths that you would find frustrating and wrong for you – and that you would not do very well and because of that dissatisfaction, if for no other reason.

And if you need to know yourself in this, and with a blunt and candid honesty, it is just as important that you know precisely what type of work and responsibilities go along with the job title that you would carry if you were to achieve a C level officer position. I have been discussing that complex of issues, and for a succession of specific types of executive officer roles throughout this series, at least in general functional area management and leadership terms. That type of discussion can offer a starting point for finding your own way forward. But you need to think through and understand the specific industry that you would seek an executive position in, and the type of business in that industry that you would best target in your job search, to meet your specific needs. As you focus in on specific businesses that you see as your top choices and ideal places to work, study them in detail. Find out about these specific businesses and know precisely what they do and what challenges they face, and how they are positioned competitively in their markets – and what you would work on if hired. Find out what the corporate culture there is like and think through how you would fit into its workplace and its culture in place. Find out about the senior executives of this business as individuals who you would work with. And study their LinkedIn profiles and other available material about them. Know who they are and what they have done professionally in their own careers, and learn and think through the issues that they see as important. Know what challenges and opportunities this business faces, and how you would be expected to contribute to resolving them.

I am going to follow this series, which I will finish here, with a next series in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, where I will look in detail into the issues of developing business intelligence for career development purposes, from online social media and other predominantly online informational resources. And I note that upcoming series here, as that means I am planning on discussing a number of issues that I have just touch upon here, in a progression of planned upcoming postings. And I finish this posting and I add this series by offering a brief list of specific resources that I have already developed for and added to this blog that many would find specifically relevant to the issues raised here:

• First of all, I offer a variety of single postings and series in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and particularly this first page of the Guide, that address specific job-search-relevant issues. Look for postings by title that would address specific issues and questions that arise for you. But the most systematically useful resource there, and particularly if you actually carry through on its proffered exercises, is my series: Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search Isn’t Working (postings 56-72.) I wrote that series in order to present a highly systematic, strategically planned approach to carrying out a complete job search campaign, and initially offered it as a Plan B because it is not uncommon for a more ad hoc Plan A to fail because it is not carried out fully and systematically. Carry out this series’ exercises in sequence and you will in fact carry out a full, systematic job search campaign.
• When you do land that C level position that you have been seeking, your next challenge is your initial new hire probationary period. And your primary goal in traversing that, besides simply staying employed there, should be to build a solid foundation from your first days on that job – when you are laying down initial impressions as to what you can do, for establishing yourself as a valued member of the overall team. And if you do that successfully, you also improve your chances of further advancement. I wrote and offer here: Starting a New Job, Building a New Foundation (postings 73-88 of that same directory) with this set of goals and of opportunities in mind.
• And I have already offered a series on working as a senior executive per se: Transitioning into Senior Management (that can be found at that same directory page as postings 158-178.) That series and this one complement each other as that earlier series addresses workplace and job performance issues that cut across functional area and work specialization divisions.
• And as a final resource that I would explicitly note here, I add a four posting series to this list that can be found at the top of the first page of my Social Networking and Business directory: Jumpstart Your Networking.

I will return to a number of issues that I have at least touched upon in this series, in future postings and series. And as noted above, I will follow this series in a few days with my first installment to a series on the use of social media and more general information resources in developing business intelligence that can be applied to job search and career development. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. I also include this posting in Page 2 of my Human Resources and Personnel directory and also see its Page 1 for related material.

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