Are You Ready to Break Into the C-Suite?

Leading a company as a member of the c-suite leadership team is a challenging and rewarding experience. But how do you get there? The first piece of advice many executive career development practitioners will offer is to “try everything.”

Don’t narrow down your specialization too soon. Dabble in as many different business areas as you can early on in your career, and you will reap the rewards down the road. Early specializers are more likely to change their career track because they haven’t experienced enough variety to find out what work they are best suited for. In contrast, late specializers with a broader knowledge base tend to be more creative, engaged, and better problem solvers, often progressing into the c-suite faster and earning bigger salaries in the long term.

Experience, leadership styles, personality traits, and characteristics vary from executive to executive, specialty to specialty, and role to role. Whether you’re thinking CEO, COO, CDO, CFO, CMO, CIO, CTO, or other CXO executive, here are some things to think about when readying yourself to take on a role in the C-suite.

5 Ways to Prepare for the C-Suite

  1. Career frameworks are replacing career ladders. As mentioned above, executive-level leaders are expected to demonstrate a wider variety of business skills than ever before. Be prepared to use related skills in various positions and for skills and experience to matter more than seniority. Continually upskill and reskill throughout your career to remain employable.
  2. Digital is not the sole responsibility of the CDO anymore. A deep understanding of digital transformation is essential for all c-suite hopefuls, including how it affects all facets of an organization. Be prepared to advise how to create new and modify existing business processes to maintain competitive advantage.
  3. Enthusiastically take on new challenges. Being willing and excited to take on responsibilities that no one else is ready to do will set you apart as a c-suite candidate and demonstrate true leadership potential.
  4. Know your value and your impact. Knowing your strengths and what you bring to the team will set you and your organization up for success. Measuring and providing facts and figures to support your success will demonstrate your ability to improve your company and realize exceptional results.
  5. Prepare yourself for difficult decisions. C-suite leaders must make hard decisions in high-pressure situations. Your decisions will not always be popular and will have to be communicated in a respectful way to everyone who is affected.

To find out how we can help you prepare for your first or next c-suite role, book a complimentary and confidential call with us here.

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of and and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

If you are a Director, VP, CxO, or Board Member aiming to elevate your career and maximize your compensation, click to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call.