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How can you make a confident decision about your next CxO? What does it take to lead successfully in an unstable world? And what specific skills should you look out for? Here are some answers.

At a time when everything is uncertain, one thing is true: Our world is changing, and changing fast. For CEOs, this presents new – and unprecedented – challenges. Business as usual is no longer enough. Everyday work has become much more complex and precise. And that means the people you surround yourself with matter more than ever before. Events are forcing business owners and CEOs to rethink what it means to be a great manager. Management skills that have worked in the past are unlikely to be relevant in the future. What helped someone get on an executive team a decade ago may not help them stay there in the next decade.

In fact, the survey shows that 66% of CEOs think their leadership is not up to the challenges of the next decade. This is important. Without the right people on the top team working together in the right way, CEOs will struggle to make high-impact decisions in real-time, leading to stakeholder resistance, disengagement and a decline in competitiveness.


Individual shift.
The best CxOs are not just high-performing individuals who focus on their individual P&L and KPI goals. They are also high-performing team players who work with their peers to move the entire organization toward its strategic vision.

Shift in Expertise.
It’s no longer just about domain expertise. CxOs must also exhibit behavioural agility. They must be able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, not be afraid to forge new ground and work with others to find a new way forward.

Shift in results.
CxOs must deliver more than just discrete results. They must support the success of the entire enterprise. This includes helping the organization stay ahead of the latest business challenges, whether it’s sustainability, digital transformation, or diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Shift in sustainability.
It’s not just about building the right executive team today. You also need to build a bench of CxOs for tomorrow. Every CxO must play a proactive role in helping to identify and develop rising stars across your organization to help ensure long-term business performance.

Culture Shift.
Leadership teams must not only adapt but also embrace diversity and drive cultural change. Your CxOs need to understand – and actively embrace – their role as carriers of the organization’s purpose, values and culture.

Adopting a faster and more agile approach to problems will also be key, as will the ability to work across departments to innovate and implement solutions on the fly.

For owners and CEOs, this makes it all the harder to find the CxOs you need to ensure long-term performance. However, there is a specific trait to look out for that will help you identify those who are capable of meeting this challenge, thereby reducing the risk of the C-suite hiring and promotion process.

The ability to be flexible.
The most successful new-age CxOs are able to take a flexible approach to the job – using different skills depending on the specific situation they face. They embody both “loud” and “quiet” competencies. They demonstrate both rational and emotional intelligence. And they are able to manage conflicting ideas simultaneously.

So, when you’re looking for your next CxO – whether for your senior team today or tomorrow – think about whether they have the behavioural agility that will allow them to be flexible. This is what will make the difference between the performance and demise of a top team.

Source: Russell Reynolds Associates

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