Does Everyone Have To Be A CEO Now?

Potential business leaders

Traits leaders will need in the future have been discussed for several years.  The message consistently reflects that to be outstanding, leaders will have the ability to:

  • Create a clear vision
  • Think globally
  • Stay current
  • Rapidly adapt to change
  • Collaborate
  • Influence
  • Empower
  • Use technology
  • Be transparent

This appears simple and straightforward.  However, there is a caveat:  in most instances these traits are considered important only to the CEO.  Since most organizations only have one CEO, how important are these for other individuals within the organization?

In the management model of our “old economy” the skills required as one progressed up the ladder changed.  The bottom level required technical skills.  The mid-level required project skills.  The top level required not only strategic skills but people skills as well.    That worked in a structured, top-down approach, which is about as relevant today as dinosaurs.


But we’ve moved on

In the next phase, potential leaders in an organization needed to have these traits.  We now have moved past that: in progressive and high performing organizations these traits are required for ALL contributors.  And that is where the challenge resides.

Recruiting for almost all positions within an organization has been, and in most instances continues to be, tactical.  It is based on identifying specific knowledge, skills and experience that are required for someone to be qualified for a role, then evaluating candidates against those criteria.  This process ignores, or at least minimizes, the importance of traits like communicating, effectively collaborating with a diverse group of people, being adaptable, having empathy and having the ability to learn.

No longer is it possible for individuals within an organization to be effective if they only have technical skills – we’re too connected, too global and move too rapidly.  Most organizations still have not modified their recruiting to consider and evaluate these important traits.

Any recruiting process that does not consider these factors is not evaluating individuals on their capability to contribute in the future.  It may even be focusing on people who cannot contribute today!

In future posts, I’ll take a look at how both recruiters and employers need to update their hiring process if they want to meet today’s expectations of excellence in any organization.  I’ll also offer some thoughts that individuals should consider as they manage their career.

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