forbes-aiming-for-the-c-suite

Originally published on Forbes.com on August 29, 2018.

Despite the growing gig economy of freelancers and independent contractors, many professionals still aspire to climb the corporate ladder and lead a company from the C-suite. It’s an admirable career goal, and with the right personal and professional development, it’s one that is very possible to achieve.

While it might take some time – and maybe even a few job changes – to reach the executive level, you can start laying the groundwork as a middle manager and begin building the skills you’ll need for your future role. We asked a panel of Forbes Coaches Council members to offer their advice for leaders who aim to become executives. Their best answers are below.

1. Develop Your Team

Successful executives know how to make their team feel included. Sadly, team-building skills are considered natural talents. They aren’t. Any professional can begin to develop this talent by asking questions of their team and listening. An executive with an open mind can explore team ideas and come up with better results while making everyone feel like they had a hand in team success. – Deborah GoldsteinDRIVEN Professionals

2. Know How to Lead And When To Follow

Managers aiming for executive leadership must not only understand how to lead and influence, but also how to follow when appropriate. As an executive, learning when to follow is highly critical as you’ll be providing direction over several different departments headed by other C-level executives. Start focusing on the “bigger picture” rather than the intricacies of all business functions. – Lakrisha DavisLakrisha Davis & Co.

3. Continually Educate Yourself

There are certainly many different ways to become an executive, however, the one approach I have seen work most often is education. The simplest strategy is to enhance your knowledge in fields beyond your actual professional know-how. Over time, that knowledge will be noticed and will open new opportunities at higher levels. – Kamyar ShahWorld Consulting Group

4. Develop Your Listening Skills

Leadership is listening, cultivating and championing. Leadership is not about doing but about motivating people to deliver in ways that are beneficial for all. Listen and deliver through actionable plans. Talent is not there to take orders. Instead, talent is there to create. Leaders can cultivate creation by listening — by leading with heart and not the bottom line. – Kristy McCannGoCoach

5. Learn How To Prioritize Tasks And Manage Your Time

We all get 24 hours a day. The difference between influential leaders and those who are good managers is how they spend their time. Ensure you calendar time every day to connect while positioning your expertise. Master the art and science of connection and positioning (both matter), which leads to sponsorship, building powerful partnerships, and having a strong leadership presence. – Lisa Marie PlatskeUpside Thinking, Inc.

6. Create A Personal Feedback Loop

Knowing where you stand within your organization is critical to getting to the next level. Up-and-coming leaders should engage in ongoing discussions about their presence and performance with a few trusted colleagues. Feedback from those around you will give you insight into how the organization views your contributions, style and potential. You will learn what adjustments you need to make too. – Stacey StaatermanStacey Staaterman Coaching & Consulting

7. Learn Your Organization’s Dynamics

One of the competencies most correlated with high performing executives is the ability to navigate organizational dynamics. Learn your company’s spoken and unspoken rules of engagement. Observe the language that successful executives use to influence others and emulate it. Develop the language of influence for your particular organization to show that you are ready. – Loren MargolisTraining & Leadership Success LLC

8. Develop Assertiveness And Flexibility

A strong executive point of view is one that can hold multiple perspectives at once. In order to effectively sit at the top of the organizational chart, you must be able to consider the impacts decisions will have on different areas of the business. Still, being able to assert a strong point of view is necessary as well. Developing both assertiveness and flexibility of perspective is key. – David Butlein, Ph.D.BLUECASE Strategic Partners

9. Know How To Transition Between Levels Of Analysis

Being able to transition between levels of analysis (knowing if the focus should be on the big picture or the details) is a professional development tip for managers. While both skills are needed, the key is knowing which is appropriate at the time. Most people are skilled at one or the other, but as an executive, being a strategic thinker and paying attention to details are needed. – Dr. Sharon H. PorterPerfect Time SHP LLC

10. Build The Right Relationships

If your focus is to move into an executive position, start building relationships with other executives now. The better connected you are, the better your chances of being recommended. Look for commonalities for connection. Ask an executive to be your mentor. Offer to do special projects to sharpen your leadership skills. Your success depends on your ability to build relationships. – Erin UrbanUPPSolutions, LLC

11. Develop Your Personal Brand

People’s perception is your reality. Be the steward of your identity and image. To get to the next level, you must be clear and consistent with who you are and what value you provide your colleagues. This includes how you present yourself. Pronounce your skills of an executive while allowing your other skills to run in the background. People will subconsciously see you at the next level. – Rosie GuagliardoInnerBrilliance Coaching

12. Understand Your Own Strengths And Values

The most important thing a rising professional can do is get clear on their strengths and values and work for a company that aligns itself with who they are. Climbing the corporate ladder requires dedication and sacrifice. Working for a company with a mission you believe in will allow you to merge your passions and ambitions, speed up your progression and lead to more success as an executive. – Jean Ali MuhlbauerPeople at Work

13. Demonstrate Value In Your Decision Making

Executives bring wisdom, strategic thinking and courage to the decision-making process. To be an executive, you need to stand out in this area. For example, in leadership meetings, if a poor decision is being discussed, do not attack it. Instead, ask questions that reveal a lack of wisdom or value in the poor decision. Then, guide discussion back to a better alternative. – Julianne Cenac Ph.D.The Leader Channel

Justin Follin
Justin Follin is a founding partner and CEO at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He is a CEO coach and organizational consultant with primary expertise in the areas of visionary leadership development, cross-functional strategic leadership, solving complex adaptive challenges and innovation. He is the primary designer of the BLUECASE Leadership Development Process for fast-scaling, mid-market companies and M&A environments. He has led hundreds of Executives, Directors, and Managers through cross-functional leadership development and has coached public and private CEOs, business leaders, TEDx presenters, academic professors, musicians, and athletes to perform at optimal levels. He has also designed or executed leadership development and consulting approaches delivered inside some of the world’s largest oil and gas, construction, and mining companies.
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Justin Follin
Justin Follin is a founding partner and CEO at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He is a CEO coach and organizational consultant with primary expertise in the areas of visionary leadership development, cross-functional strategic leadership, solving complex adaptive challenges and innovation. He is the primary designer of the BLUECASE Leadership Development Process for fast-scaling, mid-market companies and M&A environments. He has led hundreds of Executives, Directors, and Managers through cross-functional leadership development and has coached public and private CEOs, business leaders, TEDx presenters, academic professors, musicians, and athletes to perform at optimal levels. He has also designed or executed leadership development and consulting approaches delivered inside some of the world’s largest oil and gas, construction, and mining companies.
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Christine Trevino
Christine Trevino is Chief Operating Officer and efficiency extraordinaire at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. She has a strong commitment to ensuring our processes create an exceptional experience for our clients and our internal team. After spending nearly a decade within one of the nation’s largest health systems, Christine knows the foundational infrastructure necessary for operational efficiency, conflict management, resolution strategies and creating connections to truly understand what is wanted and needed and how to best accomplish it, whether supporting the business or supporting people. Christine has served in other mission focused organizations, like Texas Exes (Hook Em’) and Whole Foods Market where she had the opportunity to be a servant leader and contribute to making an impact in the lives of others as she also does through our work at BLUECASE. Christine is married to her high school sweetheart and they have five children. She enjoys the outdoors, photography and volunteering in various organizations.
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David B. Greenspan
David Greenspan, Ph.D., is the Founder of BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He has a PH.D. in High-Performance Psychology with expertise in why certain individuals and teams perform at exceptional levels, even in suboptimal circumstances. BLUECASE facilitates strategic planning and teaches managers and executives at fast-growing companies how to create seamless cross-functional collaboration, feedback-rich cultures, and high levels of engagement. An expert in creating high-performance corporate cultures and teams, David is an energizing leader, coach, and facilitator known for his capacity to galvanize groups to generate breakthrough results. David has over fifteen years of experience working with senior executives at Fortune 100 companies and executive teams of fast-growing PE-backed companies with between $50 Million and $2 Billion in annual revenue. Notable clients include ESO, Vida Capital, Intersys, Four Hands, AffiniPay, Logix, University of Texas, Maidbot, Bypass Mobile, Austin Fitness Group/Orange Theory Fitness, Kerbey Lane Cafe, ShippingEasy, Triangle Services, Allegiance Mobile Health, and YPO.
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David B. Greenspan
David Greenspan, Ph.D., is the Founder of BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He has a PH.D. in High-Performance Psychology with expertise in why certain individuals and teams perform at exceptional levels, even in suboptimal circumstances. BLUECASE facilitates strategic planning and teaches managers and executives at fast-growing companies how to create seamless cross-functional collaboration, feedback-rich cultures, and high levels of engagement. An expert in creating high-performance corporate cultures and teams, David is an energizing leader, coach, and facilitator known for his capacity to galvanize groups to generate breakthrough results. David has over fifteen years of experience working with senior executives at Fortune 100 companies and executive teams of fast-growing PE-backed companies with between $50 Million and $2 Billion in annual revenue. Notable clients include ESO, Vida Capital, Intersys, Four Hands, AffiniPay, Logix, University of Texas, Maidbot, Bypass Mobile, Austin Fitness Group/Orange Theory Fitness, Kerbey Lane Cafe, ShippingEasy, Triangle Services, Allegiance Mobile Health, and YPO.
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Christel Frietsch
Christel Frietsch is the Operations Administrator at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. She has 30 years of administrative experience with expertise in scheduling, correspondence, logistics and project coordination. Prior to joining the BLUECASE team, she was the Director of Operations for an Austin based CPG healthy lifestyle company, an Executive Administrator for a land use consulting firm, and an Executive Assistant to the CEO of an international disease prevention and wellness company. Originally from Austin, TX, Christel graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry, and completed her minor study in Psychology. She is an IIN Certified Integrative Holistic Health Coach and an IPHM Certified Energy Healer. Christel currently lives in New Braunfels, TX with her partner and two rescued dogs. She enjoys spending time in nature, gardening and reading.
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Lori Darley
Lori brings nearly two decades of experience as a transformational coach and consultant and has worked extensively with leaders and C-suite executives in many industries. She coaches organizations from multi-national corporations, such as Ferro Chemical, a global cosmetics firm and a Fortune 500 “Class One” rail transportation company. She has also worked with a wide variety of entrepreneurial ventures and individuals in non-profits, manufacturing, financial services, management consulting, commercial real estate and the arts. Lori is a certified somatic coach, recognized by the Strozzi Institute, and a certified Peak Potentials trainer. Additional certifications include Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership, Gallup Strengths-Finder, the Myers/Briggs Personality Assessment and the EQi-2 (an Emotional Intelligence assessment and 360 feedback model).
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Lori Darley
Lori brings nearly two decades of experience as a transformational coach and consultant and has worked extensively with leaders and C-suite executives in many industries. She coaches organizations from multi-national corporations, such as Ferro Chemical, a global cosmetics firm and a Fortune 500 “Class One” rail transportation company. She has also worked with a wide variety of entrepreneurial ventures and individuals in non-profits, manufacturing, financial services, management consulting, commercial real estate and the arts. Lori is a certified somatic coach, recognized by the Strozzi Institute, and a certified Peak Potentials trainer. Additional certifications include Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership, Gallup Strengths-Finder, the Myers/Briggs Personality Assessment and the EQi-2 (an Emotional Intelligence assessment and 360 feedback model).
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Robin Knudsen
Robin combines 20 years of international corporate experience with that of leadership development to bring insight into creating diverse and inclusive cultures and improving how teams function. As a coach and facilitator, Robin has worked with a broad range of companies across industries from Fortune 100’s through to entrepreneurs and SME’s. Robin holds a BA from The University of Texas at Austin and a Masters in Organization Development from St. Edward’s University. She is a certified executive coach, trained in NLP, HeartMath, and Reiki.
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Robin Knudsen
Robin combines 20 years of international corporate experience with that of leadership development to bring insight into creating diverse and inclusive cultures and improving how teams function. As a coach and facilitator, Robin has worked with a broad range of companies across industries from Fortune 100’s through to entrepreneurs and SME’s. Robin holds a BA from The University of Texas at Austin and a Masters in Organization Development from St. Edward’s University. She is a certified executive coach, trained in NLP, HeartMath, and Reiki.
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Shawn Clark
Shawn Clark is a certified Executive Coach who brings extensive hands-on leadership experience to every coaching session. His business background includes senior leadership roles for mission-critical teams and initiatives with global Fortune 500 companies and U.S. Government agencies. Shawn delivers powerful, effective and efficient coaching experiences which enables his clients to achieve results that were previously unattainable. Shawn strives to ensure the coaching journey is a fulfilling and enjoyable experience loaded with exploration, discovery, creativity, growth and achievement.
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Shawn Clark
Shawn Clark is a certified Executive Coach who brings extensive hands-on leadership experience to every coaching session. His business background includes senior leadership roles for mission-critical teams and initiatives with global Fortune 500 companies and U.S. Government agencies. Shawn delivers powerful, effective and efficient coaching experiences which enables his clients to achieve results that were previously unattainable. Shawn strives to ensure the coaching journey is a fulfilling and enjoyable experience loaded with exploration, discovery, creativity, growth and achievement.
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Trish Perevich
Trish brings over 10 years of experience as an Executive Coach and has coached a range of professionals from emerging leaders to C-Suite Executives. Her experience includes individual and group coaching; design and delivery of corporate training and coaching programs; and facilitation of SVP and C-Level Peer Advisory Groups. Trish has worked with a range of organizations from startups to Enterprise Fortune 100 companies including Genentech/Roche, Google, NASA and the United States Airforce. She has served dozens of industries including technology, finance, life science, construction, healthcare, education and more. Supporting her experience is a BS Degree in Business/Marketing from The Rochester Institute of Technology. Trish holds the PCC coaching credential along with certificates in Conscious Business Coaching and Team Advantage Coaching. Outside of work Trish enjoys golf, hiking, yoga, fitness classes, cooking and travel.
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Trish Perevich
Trish brings over 10 years of experience as an Executive Coach and has coached a range of professionals from emerging leaders to C-Suite Executives. Her experience includes individual and group coaching; design and delivery of corporate training and coaching programs; and facilitation of SVP and C-Level Peer Advisory Groups. Trish has worked with a range of organizations from startups to Enterprise Fortune 100 companies including Genentech/Roche, Google, NASA and the United States Airforce. She has served dozens of industries including technology, finance, life science, construction, healthcare, education and more. Supporting her experience is a BS Degree in Business/Marketing from The Rochester Institute of Technology. Trish holds the PCC coaching credential along with certificates in Conscious Business Coaching and Team Advantage Coaching. Outside of work Trish enjoys golf, hiking, yoga, fitness classes, cooking and travel.
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Kan Yan
Kan has worked as an international humanitarian for the United Nations, a lawyer for the US Federal Courts, and a management consultant for McKinsey & Company where he consulted Fortune 500 clients across numerous industries with a focus on organizational health and leadership development. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School and a Masters of Law and Diplomacy from the Tufts Fletcher School.
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Kan Yan
Kan has worked as an international humanitarian for the United Nations, a lawyer for the US Federal Courts, and a management consultant for McKinsey & Company where he consulted Fortune 500 clients across numerous industries with a focus on organizational health and leadership development. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School and a Masters of Law and Diplomacy from the Tufts Fletcher School.
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Paulin Laberge
Paulin has co-founded two technology companies and has served as CEO of five. After more than 30 years of senior leadership roles in the technology industry, Paulin recently made the transition from running companies to helping teams grow their companies. His most recent engagement was as CEO of iCompass Technologies, a SaaS company that delivers solutions that strengthen open and efficient government, and which resulted in a successful exit at the end of 2017. He has been an advisor and mentor to numerous technology companies. Paulin has firsthand experience in building organizations, developing effective strategies, securing financing, developing market-leading products, establishing strategic alliances, marketing, and selling domestically and internationally. He has worked with boards and management teams to help them precisely execute critical corporate objectives and business strategies, create performance-centric cultures, and engaged, motivated teams, focused on driving results. Paulin has been an Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Columbia Innovation Council, where he established a province-wide mentor program. He was also actively involved in the development and delivery of growth, strategy, and market validation programs widely used by several technology accelerators. Paulin started his career as an Electrical Engineer after graduating from the University of Alberta. Throughout his career, Paulin has trained in numerous areas including, strategy, finance, sales, marketing, negotiations, organizational development, mentoring, and coaching. He resides with his wife, Lea, and their dog Huxley, on the west coast near Vancouver, BC.
Senior Strategic Planning Consultant
Paulin Laberge
Paulin has co-founded two technology companies and has served as CEO of five. After more than 30 years of senior leadership roles in the technology industry, Paulin recently made the transition from running companies to helping teams grow their companies. His most recent engagement was as CEO of iCompass Technologies, a SaaS company that delivers solutions that strengthen open and efficient government, and which resulted in a successful exit at the end of 2017. He has been an advisor and mentor to numerous technology companies. Paulin has firsthand experience in building organizations, developing effective strategies, securing financing, developing market-leading products, establishing strategic alliances, marketing, and selling domestically and internationally. He has worked with boards and management teams to help them precisely execute critical corporate objectives and business strategies, create performance-centric cultures, and engaged, motivated teams, focused on driving results. Paulin has been an Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Columbia Innovation Council, where he established a province-wide mentor program. He was also actively involved in the development and delivery of growth, strategy, and market validation programs widely used by several technology accelerators. Paulin started his career as an Electrical Engineer after graduating from the University of Alberta. Throughout his career, Paulin has trained in numerous areas including, strategy, finance, sales, marketing, negotiations, organizational development, mentoring, and coaching. He resides with his wife, Lea, and their dog Huxley, on the west coast near Vancouver, BC.
Senior Strategic Planning Consultant
Lisa Jaecklein
Lisa is well known in high tech industries for her work in developing and leading high-performance teams. She has “walked the talk” as President and CEO for private and public engineering based companies in Satellite Communications, Telecom and Commercial Enterprise markets. Lisa’s corporate background includes leading an IPO, Strategic Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions and integration of global teams. She draws from her diverse market experience and passion for coaching to support professional development of executives and senior management teams. Her focus areas include supporting development/ refinement of strategic plans, executive coaching to advance leadership capabilities and organization alignment necessary to support strategy implementation. Lisa brings a unique understanding of the interdependencies of people and business that drives results and ways to sustain a positive level of energy in her clients personal and professional lives. Lisa holds a BS in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and has served as Director on a number of corporate and not for profit Boards.
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Lisa Jaecklein
Lisa is well known in high tech industries for her work in developing and leading high-performance teams. She has “walked the talk” as President and CEO for private and public engineering based companies in Satellite Communications, Telecom and Commercial Enterprise markets. Lisa’s corporate background includes leading an IPO, Strategic Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions and integration of global teams. She draws from her diverse market experience and passion for coaching to support professional development of executives and senior management teams. Her focus areas include supporting development/ refinement of strategic plans, executive coaching to advance leadership capabilities and organization alignment necessary to support strategy implementation. Lisa brings a unique understanding of the interdependencies of people and business that drives results and ways to sustain a positive level of energy in her clients personal and professional lives. Lisa holds a BS in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and has served as Director on a number of corporate and not for profit Boards.
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