The race for a corner office: Amber Skinner-Jozefson
An incredible number of fantastic women leaders I talk to aren’t aware of how to play the “game” or what the rules are to get from a senior management or managing director position to C-suite and, therefore, they discount themselves.
For this reason, we need to look two to three levels below the C-suite to identify potential female candidates, assign high-visibility and relevant assignments and, above all, be clear about the path forward.
In my experience, female leaders – overall – naturally display attributes that make them very skilled C-suite members. To get more candidates in the door (and there is no dearth of qualified women candidates), we need a stronger pipe, sponsorship and mentorship, and a general recognition at the top that diversity (in all forms) makes teams stronger and perform better.
There are idiosyncrasies unique to every industry and sector, however, general demonstrable traits needed on most paths to C-suite include sound, tested and proven management skills, excellent 360-degree communication, and a track record of developing and executing strategy.
The softer skills and attributes that make an excellent C-suite candidate are emotional intelligence (I can’t overstate this), thoughtful and logical decision-making, and a healthy and constructive approach to resolving conflict, of which there will and should be plenty at C-suite.
I’ve held a few different C-suite titles in my career and I wanted to be on a C-suite because I wanted to have greater say in how resources were directed and strategy was set. I felt that a seat at this table would enable me to make the biggest contributions. I identified this target years prior and started with a self-assessment to unearth blind spots, weaknesses, and inexperience. I headed straight to business school to plug some of those holes, and I started reaching for specific projects and roles to get experience in other areas.
To other women striving to achieve a place in the corner office, I would advise them to assemble a sort of advisory board, which includes honest and trusted peers, mentors and sponsors. My advisory board spans personal and professional worlds, as these two are interwoven for me.
Also, I would advise women to make a plan and go for it. Some navigate by feel and instinct alone and end up in wonderfully fulfilling and remunerative roles. My personal style is to target a particular goal, make a plan, and then attack it.