Smart executives leverage the power of persuasion and lean on an understanding of people rather than process.

The Sweet Spot in the C-Suite Skill Set: People

C-Suiters can no longer expect chain-of-command to be enough of an incentive for team dedication and productivity. People today must be persuaded.

Business professionals seeking to climb the corporate ladder face a wide array of obstacles and challenges… Internal candidate competition, market conditions affecting budget, difficult-to-maneuver company policy – all of this and more can trip up fast-rising stars on their way to the C-Suite. Of course, once you reach the corner office, everything is jake, right? Think again.

C-Level executives not only shouldn’t stop learning, they must continue learning even to stay where they are, according to a study consisting of 32 interviews with top talent search consultants at a global executive placement firm. What kind of skill sets should goal-oriented executives focus on? A “strong combination of technical skills and soft skills” comprises the core makeup that recruiting seeks in C-Level players.

Of special note in the survey were team-building skills, which rely on persuasive ability as one of the great building blocks of the executive skill set. Creating common ground and cooperative interaction, as well as providing motivation and inspiration, are leadership attributes that revolve around an understanding – whether instinctual or conscious – of the role the emotional brain plays in human decision and action.

This dependence on the “emotional skill set” has only grown as organizational hierarchies have become flatter. C-Suiters can no longer expect that chain-of-command is enough of an incentive for dedication and productivity. Today’s business team members need to be persuaded. Smart executives will leverage the power of emotion for persuasion and lean on an understanding of people rather than process.

According to the study, though, a natural ability for dealing with people – for emotional intelligence and emotional triggers – may not be enough. Star candidates for the C-Suite are “expected to apply an analytical lens to team management and to be familiar with best practices, as opposed to just managing by gut,” according to the HBR study. In other words, even those executives with an instinctual understanding of how to influence, motivate, and persuade would do well to categorize and quantify that knowledge and skill so as to be able to effectively transfer them to others and help build a culture of competence.

Lifelong learning is an ideal across the organization; C-Suite candidates would do well to add coaching and mentoring to the mix.

This is one of ways 7 Triggers training helps prepare those bound for the C-Suite. When the courses are brought in to an organization, there is invariably a spark of recognition by the seasoned professionals – folks who’ve been there and done that, whether in leadership, marketing, or sales.  “This is what works” is the common observation. Only, with the 7 Triggers formula it’s no longer instinct or trial-and-error. It’s a structured approach validated by science. Practical, flexible, and repeatable.

The jump from team member to team leader can be both subtle and precipitous. As a leader, it’s no longer enough to assume a collegial, cooperative stance, using good communication and conflict resolution skills. There’s an important perspective shift that involves seeing your colleagues as customers, and your ideas and vision as a value proposition. Oarsmen just need to row. Captains have to navigate – and compel the rowing direction not just at a group leader level, but with each individual participant.

As one consultant in the study said:

Leaders need to be constantly testing how people are responding to them… and open to adjusting their style—both in how they communicate with different groups of people and how they change their leadership approach to suit the situation.

When it comes to how to categorize and define the inevitable emotional factors intertwined with business – meaning, belief, motivation, inspiration, decision – a formula like the 7 Triggers helps codify without confining. In other words, it’s a formula that’s both reliably structured yet highly flexible, allowing methods and techniques to be easily tailored across a spectrum from entire markets to unique individuals.