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  • Writer's pictureTrendy Tan

11 Tips for Mid-to-Senior Level Professionals Seeking C-Suite Roles

11 Tips for Mid-to-Senior Level Professionals Seeking C-Suite Roles

Aspiring to step into the C-Suite? Kepler Search has gathered eleven pieces of advice from top CEOs, Executive Coaches, and other industry leaders to guide your journey. From mastering effective executive communication to exhibiting strategic thinking and presence, these insights will equip you for the executive leap.

  • Master Effective Executive Communication

  • Cultivate a Commanding Executive Presence

  • Seek a Chief Mentor

  • Embrace Continuous Learning and Growth

  • Demonstrate Strategic Decision-Making

  • Develop Leadership Skills and Networks

  • Shift to a Company-Wide Management Perspective

  • Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

  • Show Promotability Through Effective Delegation

  • Foster Learning Agility and Diverse Networks

  • Exhibit Strategic Thinking and Presence

Master Effective Executive Communication

Communicate with executives so they get it and can act on it. 

First, remember they're busy so communicate concisely. Then, clarify the problem, the impact of acting or not, the data, and the potential actions/solutions.

Remember to simplify the issue. As Albert Einstein said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Finally, organize your delivery. Whether communicating orally or in writing, guide busy executives logically to the action, decision, or understanding you want.

Being able to effectively communicate with executives is critical for anyone wanting to enter and succeed in the C-Suite. Be able to present your information in six minutes and know enough about it to talk for hours.

Liz Weber - Featured

Cultivate a Commanding Executive Presence

Elevating your career to the executive level demands more than knowledge; it hinges on a commanding executive presence. This presence combines robust communication skills, gravitas, and the ability to motivate and influence others while navigating challenging situations with calm and composure. 

Aspiring C-suite executives should understand that while technical expertise remains foundational, it is their ability to form human connections, exude confidence, inspire those in their organizations and beyond, and master the intricacies of emotional intelligence that truly matter. 

Embracing and prioritizing these executive presence dimensions will not only elevate their leadership journey but also create a profound impact on their teams and organizations, setting them on a path toward C-suite success.

Nannapat Sage - Featured

Nannapat Sage, Executive Coach, Potentia

Seek a Chief Mentor

Find your chief mentor. This person is not necessarily an executive from your company who will take you under their wing, but a leader whom you can find on training courses, networking events, social media, and even your side gigs. Make your best first impression and nurture your relationship. 

Derek Capo - Featured

Embrace Continuous Learning and Growth

As an Executive Business Coach with years of experience, a fundamental piece of advice that has consistently proven its worth in the corporate world is to embrace a growth mindset and invest in continuous learning.

Leaders are learners. They understand that to lead effectively, they must stay ahead of the curve, be well-informed about industry trends, and continuously develop their skills. Advancing to the C-suite is not just about accumulating knowledge; it's about applying and sharing that knowledge effectively, demonstrating leadership, and creating a positive impact on your organization. 

So, prioritize continuous learning, embrace change, and stay curious—these qualities will serve you well as you climb the corporate ladder and achieve your executive aspirations.

Allison Dunn - Featured

Allison Dunn, CEO, Head Business and Executive Coach, Deliberate Directions

Demonstrate Strategic Decision-Making

For those looking to move into the C-suite, my advice is to build a track record of strategic decision-making. Take on projects that require a big-picture outlook and involve multiple departments, which can show your ability to think and act like an executive. 

For example, if you lead a successful cross-departmental project, it highlights your strategic thinking and collaboration skills. These experiences demonstrate to current and future employers that you're ready for the challenges of C-level leadership. In essence, act like the executive you aim to be before you get there.

Alex Stasiak - Featured

Alex Stasiak, CEO and Founder, Startup House

Develop Leadership Skills and Networks

It's important not to get stuck in the redundancies of normal, everyday "work." One valuable piece of advice for mid-to-senior-level professionals aspiring to reach executive roles, particularly in the C-Suite, is to continuously work on developing their leadership skills. 

Executives must not only excel in their specific areas of expertise but also demonstrate strong leadership qualities. This includes effective communication, emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, and the ability to inspire and motivate teams. Seek out mentors or executive coaches who can provide guidance on leadership development, and actively look for opportunities to lead projects or cross-functional teams to gain hands-on experience. 

In addition, don't underestimate the importance of networking and building relationships both within and outside your organization, as these connections can open doors and provide valuable insights.

Tazeen Raza - Featured

Tazeen Raza, Executive Coach, Tazeen Raza

Shift to a Company-Wide Management Perspective

There is a reason the C-Suite is a sacred space. Discussions at the managerial level tend to focus on projects. Discussions at the senior management level center around managing the people who are procuring and managing the projects. 

What most senior managers miss when looking in the mirror and assessing their own readiness for senior executive and C-Suite roles, is that the conversations in the C-suite are about managing the overall company as an entity. 

They focus on M&A moves more than organic growth, on reorganizing the business for efficiencies more than running the day-to-day, and generally on high-level strategy more than the tactical. They look to create what's not there, and to disrupt, rather than managing what is already there. This is yet another different way of thinking from each of the levels below. 

So, those seeking to find a seat at that C-Suite table need to begin thinking more along those lines, and honing their ability to add value to discussions at that level.

Lee Jay Berman - Featured

Lee Jay Berman, Principal, Leadership Consultant, Executive Coach, Leadership Development Partners

Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

The one piece of advice I have for mid-to-senior level professionals who want to advance their careers and enter the executive or C-Suite space is to intentionally and significantly increase your emotional intelligence. 

EQ is at the crux of so many things leaders need like consequential thinking, self-awareness, influence, focus, drive, decision-making, and connection to those who work with, for, and around them. Emotional intelligence undergirds cognitive intelligence. Together, they are a powerful tool for performance, growth, productivity, and scalability. Do the work and watch the growth as it becomes a catalyst for your career.

Aleasa Word - Featured

Aleasa Word, CEO and Executive Coach, A. Word & Company

Show Promotability Through Effective Delegation

Leaders who are best-suited for a seat at the C-Suite table are the ones who have let go of "doing" and can effectively lead their teams. Too many middle managers carry bad habits with them for too long, appearing overworked, stressed out, and unable to prioritize the right work for their role.

The best thing you can do to demonstrate promotability is to strategically delegate work that will stretch your team and build their capability. When they can work effectively without your oversight, you've done your job as a leader and have freed yourself up to advance your career without leaving chaos in the wake of your departure.

Shaina Lane - Featured

Shaina Lane, Owner, Certified Executive Coach, Premier Professional Coaching

Foster Learning Agility and Diverse Networks

Continuous learning and fostering a growth mindset of learning agility are critical factors that help individuals step into executive roles, especially in today's ever-evolving and dynamic professional landscape. It is crucial to cultivate a sense of curiosity, perpetually seeking new knowledge, and challenging the status quo to keep abreast of industry changes and encourage exploration of different perspectives.

Continuously building and strengthening core competencies, whether through formal education, specialized training, or experiential learning, is vital in maintaining relevance within your field and adapting to the changing environment. 

Furthermore, the transition from a mid-level professional to a leader is significant; therefore, being intentional about self-reflection, seeking diverse networks, and tapping into the wealth of knowledge offered by mentors and coaches greatly helps in one's growth and expedites the journey towards achieving executive leadership excellence.

Enma Popli - Featured

Enma Popli, Executive Coach, Enma Popli

Exhibit Strategic Thinking and Presence

Showing evidence that you are prepared for a higher-level role, and to the C-Suite role, requires evidence of strategic thinking and presence. 

As you advance in your leadership, being able to see more, understand more, and then communicate what you perceive as issues or opportunities becomes a key factor in demonstrating preparedness for a bigger role. Learn about the organization, factors influencing [it], and trends, even competitors. The more information you gather, the more you can combine that information and then share your thoughts and ideas in meetings with other leaders. 

This shows that you are thinking beyond your own area, that you are alert for and knowledgeable about what is happening in your field, and that you have the ability to synthesize pertinent information to help the organization.

Dr. Julie Donley - Featured

Dr. Julie Donley, Executive Coach and Author

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Ready to Take the Leap to the C-Suite? Or Need Expertise in Hiring Top Executive Talent?

Embark on your journey with confidence! Contact us for a confidential discussion, whether you're ready to ascend to the C-Suite or are seeking assistance in hiring top-tier executive talent.

Kepler Search is a boutique executive search firm based in Asia with global reach providing unrivalled access to premier talent, market insights, and local knowledge to support business growth. We deliver top talent across key business functions and industries, including Commodities & Energy, Oil & Gas, LNG, Utilities, Power, Natural Resources, Metals & Mining, Renewables, Agribusiness, Data Centers, and Infrastructure Investments.


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