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Manager to the C-Suite – How to Make the Move
September 6, 2018

A common frustration amongst CEOs is that when they promote internal Managers to C-Suite Executives, they often receive lackluster results. A lot of times, Managers are exceptional with operations, management, and overall performance of their respective departments, but struggle to make a successful transition to the C-Suite.


Why is that?

As a Manager, there are different expectations attached than with a C-Suite Executive.

As an Executive, a CEO is expecting Game Changing Value that affects the organization’s bottom line in a real way. These new expectations require new conversations and different skill sets, knowledge bases, mindsets, and ways of being (behaviors, actions).

Managers usually have different role and responsibilities, and typically different views and perspectives than C-Suite Executives.

Managers tend to be short-term, task-orientated, day-to-day thinking, immersed in the day-to-day. They focus more on the immediate future and generating action.

C-Suite Executives focus on the long-term and view decisions from the vantage point of “how will this affect the organization as a whole”, “how is the company aligned or not aligned”, and “what opportunities are out there to capitalize on, and what potential threats do we need to be aware of?”

Overall, C-Suite Executives think strategically and analyze situations and information from a strategic point of view.

Thinking strategically is a mindset shift. It is not simply adding new skills, learning a new technique or following a new set of steps to achieve a certain outcome. A mindset shift is thinking differently and developing new perspectives and views. The transition of Manager to C-Suite Executive requires going from a concentration of just a department, team, or area of concentration, to a focus on the organization, and viewing situations and experiences from a mindset of how it affects the entire organization.

This transition can be quite difficult and will likely require some training and support from the CEO to the future Executives on what Game Changing Value means to the organization.


What is Game Changing Value?

It is new ideas and possibilities that affect revenue and profits positively, or reduce organizational costs – basically, it is bottom-line value.

For example, introducing new, innovative technology to the company that creates a new product that leads to a new revenue generation stream that did not exist previously.

Finding a new way to utilize large equipment that increases overall equipment utilization and generates increased revenue and profits.


How does a CEO make this conversational shift of tactical to strategic with Managers?

Here are 3 questions to ask:

  1. Finish this sentence – “Strategic Thinking is…”
  2. What are 3 ideas or possibilities you see that could lead to game-changing value for the organization?

Definition – Game Changing Value to the organization means to create a meaningful, sustainable difference to increase revenue and/or profit and reduce costs.

Example: 15% increase in revenue, make new subsidiary arm of business profitable, and reduce organizational expenses by 15 – 20% without reducing personnel or sacrificing quality.

  1. How could you turn your game-changing ideas and possibilities into reality over the next 3 – 5 years within the organization? Include any data, research, or related information to support your ideas.

This exercise is a great way to begin having higher level, strategic conversations that can lead to action. When a CEO provides this level of support to new, emerging C-Suite Executives it shows a high level of care and commitment to the future growth of both the individuals and the organization.


Leadership Challenge:

Make a request from your C-Suite Executive Team to come up with 3 – 5 Game-Changing Value ideas and possibilities for your next Executive meeting.

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