How effective do you believe yourself to be as a member of the C-suite? According to a recent McKinsey survey, the number of executives believing themselves to be ineffective might surprise you. That’s because nearly half of top executives say they weren’t effective at earning support for their new ideas when they moved into C-suite roles, while more than one-third say they have not successfully met their objectives during their tenures.
So, how can you help ensure success in your C-suite role? Using the results from the survey, McKinsey answers this question with 3 findings. Here they are in addition to my own thoughts on how you can best make use this information:
- Organization-wide alignment. Many executives come into a new position filled with instruction on how best to align an organization, most feeling that direct guidance on what the organization as a whole will do and accomplish is the best approach. Yet, the survey finds that executives who get it right have actually discovered it’s just as important to instruct members on what not to do. This way, there is no ambiguity.
- Spending time with initial direct reports and learning about culture. Good leaders know how important it is to fully understand an organization’s culture before jumping in. There are nuances to every organization and executives agree it is the toughest obstacle to overcome. So, a wise executive will take the opportunity to learn them while building relationships with initial direct reports—relying on them for information and guidance, and therefore not only gain the information about needed about the culture, but doing so in a way that earns trust and builds rapport.
- Knowing how to tap support and resources. Because these executives know the importance of both building relationships and understanding the culture, they are well tuned into the availability of support and resources within the organization itself. While other executives who aren’t as in-tune with their organization may instead look to what they know outside the organization for support (creating schisms and negatively impacting efficiencies), these masters of the C-suite are increasing efficiencies by allowing internal processes and people to fulfill their purposes, therein increasing the available time and energy they have to understand the issues they were in a unique position to influence.
The good news is that it doesn’t happen for anyone automatically or overnight—even those who achieve the greatest success. The survey’s insight overview says: “Roughly one-third of respondents (the most successful ones, as well as all others) say it took them more than 100 days to feel fully comfortable in the role. And regardless of the transition’s outcome, most respondents say it took them longer than three months to determine solutions for the key strategic questions they identified when their transitions began.”