Executives: How to Climb Your Way to CEO

The job of corporate executive has always been one of the most-scrutinized and lucrative positions with a company and has now become the most-difficult to successfully maintain. Current economic conditions and the ever-evolving face of the business world have placed added pressure on executives to stay abreast of everything that affects the company’s bottom line, including their own egos.

Recent studies from the Center for Organizational Leadership have shown that the average tenures of Fortune 500 CEOs have dropped by almost two years since 1995, and that 40 percent of new CEOs fail within the first year and a half at their new positions. There are several measures that can be taken to ensure your individual success as a new executive, and not become the next casualty of the corporate world.

Being a Team Player

The most important part of being a successful business leader is being a team player. Yes, you are an executive and one of highest-paid employees of the company, but you’re still part of a team. You should know everything about the company, including its history, its customers and the atmosphere around the office. An inflated sense of individual importance is a career killer, as the company brought you in to reinforce its already established model, not for you to change it to fit your own agenda. Always attending company functions, willingness to learn, using company vernacular and perpetually improving your people skills are all essential in maintaining overall company morale and your own position.

Determination is Key

Persistence is also key to a successful career as an executive. Former GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons has said many times over the years that had it not been for his never-die attitude, GoDaddy may have never come into existence. GoDaddy was the new-kid-on-the-block for domain registrars in 1997 when it was founded. But persistence, according to Parsons, allowed GoDaddy to pass established companies Network Solutions, Dotster and eNom within eight years to become the top domain registrar online. An executive, in collaboration with the team and company’s mission, can never waiver from the established goal, no matter how daunting the task may be.

Everyone Needs a Coach

And finally, executives should hire a coach. Top-level executives, frankly, do not have many “bosses” to listen to, and their employees generally will not challenge their authority. This is a recipe for egocentrism and inflated self confidence, which can lead to muting out important information from subordinates. A coach is the perfect psychologist and reality checker for business leaders trying to navigate the corporate track. A quarterback is the leader on the field for his football team, but his coach will tell him, without fear of adverse action, what he did wrong after each play and constructively criticize his performance to encourage improvement.

There is far too much pressure on executives today, especially in these economic times, to try and carry all the burdens of corporate success without any help. A coach can be the difference between becoming a successful CEO and sending out a resume.

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