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What will the C-Suite look like in the future?

What will the C-Suite look like in the future?

Executive Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd


In the coming years, how will the composition of the C-Suite change?


What skills and behaviours will be required from these individuals in the future?


How will this impact searching for C-Suite professionals?

Jonathan: It will be a change in their behaviours, conduct, values and decision-making style. Whilst the Board from an organisational design perspective will look the same, it is the traits of the people on those Boards where the changes will take place.

There will also be an emergence of a new position at the level below Board; the Chief Customer Officer – someone who will ensure that leadership has the customer at the centre of all its decisions.

Lisa: There has been a buzz about the transition of the Chief Marketing Officer to the Chief Customer Officer. As marketing becomes a business driver and begins to include data analytics, digital and customer experience, thinking about how you drive experience to create business value, rather than being a support function, is vital. These people are coming from more of a technology background or digital background to focus on customer.

In the United States we are also seeing the rise of the Chief Innovation Officer. These people are really thinking about the future. They’re a person who takes control over the innovation of a company by looking at new ideas, inventions, mergers and acquisitions, and ventures.

John-Claude: One role I see as becoming more proactive on the Board is the CIO. Typically, a COO would have that responsibility as there still isn’t a seat purely for the CIO - certain organisations have implemented the role, others have taken it off and some are looking to add it. But other than the CIO I don’t think it’s a case of adding more roles, rather it’s about existing roles having a bigger say at the table.

Julian: The modern leader knows they don’t have all the answers and they are confident enough to say that. They are the antithesis of the old-school rockstar CEO who said they don’t need anyone else.

We recently worked with a fantastic CEO who sat his Board down in a barn for four days and said ‘I don’t have all the answers - that’s why you’re here’. The courage to know that nobody can be good at everything is important, as is realising that people are different and getting the right mix is key.

John-Claude: From a technical stand point innovation and digital is the future of Financial Services, so if the CEO isn’t the most technically-minded person on the Executive Committee there’s something wrong.

From a cultural standpoint the world is becoming much more focused on emotional intelligence. There are a number of organisations who hire on IQ, resulting in very bright individuals who can stop the room dead with their brains, but can’t get people on their side and don’t know what people want. We now need someone who thinks about their employees and not just the shareholder. The IQ is still important, but emotional intelligence is a trait we are trying to hire more of.

Jonathan: The modern executive has to have intellectual intelligence (IQ), emotional intelligence (EQ), commercial intelligence (CQ) and values intelligence (VQ). Someone can be really bright, and have great emotional intelligence – yet they can’t make the share price creep up. Comparatively you can have someone with no values who knows how to manipulate and get outcomes, but for all the wrong reasons. There needs to be a focus on all four of these attributes, underpinned by authentic leadership. The Millennials coming through the workforce will focus on whether someone is real or fake. The new breed of Executives are also less hierarchical, they speak to their driver or secretary the same way they speak to fellow shareholders and directors.

Julian: I think leadership advisory firms have to focus more on culture and culture-matching rather than trying to assess technical skill. That will have to become more prominent, as will the tools you use to do these evaluations. Are you looking at culture, potential, attitudinal metrics? How are you assessing people this way and why? There needs to be more focus on this element.

Lisa: We are being asked more and more to test the future potential of candidates, in order to ascertain how they will exist in the next five to ten years, therefore the way we assess has to change. We need to look at where people are coming from rather than using the traditional methods of evaluating past experience; we need to look into the makeup of a person and ascertain how they would approach certain subjects and issues.

John-Claude: The individuals are out there, the difficulty is getting organisations to accept them as a generational leader. So it’s less about finding these people, and more about asking whether the organisations are ready for them and whether the individuals are ready to become part of these traditional organisations. Theoretically it’s great to have the CIO of an online retailer moving to be the CIO of a bank, but it’s very different work. While they could be innovative and move them forward, they still have to deal with the history and the legacy. Therefore it’s about getting them ready to land in a new role.

Jonathan: And it’s no longer just about landing them the job, but ensuring that for the 12 months after that and beyond, both parties are happy with the hire and there’s no ‘organ rejection’. Traditional search firms should be worried because it’s becoming harder. You can’t just go into the rolodex to find a candidate, you have to do your job thoroughly and dynamically research things about a candidate you haven’t before. The client is paying you to search globally to ensure the shortlist you provide contains the only options they should be considering.

About Marlin Hawk

Marlin Hawk is a leadership advisory and executive search firm that discovers the ‘leaders of tomorrow’ and helps build the environment in which they succeed. What sets the firm apart: 1) Alignment (support wider corporate goals); 2) Innovation (never feel restricted); 3) Agility (every project is bespoke); 4) Output (deliver beyond expectations). Marlin Hawk is a multi-practice firm focused on Board, NED, C-suite and senior executives across revenue leadership roles (General Management, Commercial, Digital) and operational effectiveness leadership roles (Operations, Finance, Risk, Compliance, Technology, HR). Leadership advisory services include market intelligence & benchmarking, partnership programmes, talent mapping & analysis and leadership assessment & coaching.

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