I would love a corner office in a gorgeous high rise building. My corner office neighbors would be stalwart, admirable, yet friendly people who I can't believe I get to call my peers. I'd have a shiny wood desk with silver-framed pictures of my family and all the exotic vacations we've been to over the years. I'd have an unlimited supply of letter-pressed business cards that boldly stated my title: Chief Executive Officer.
A Working Girl can dream, right?
Well, we are still young and we can certainly prepare ourselves to make this kind of dream a reality. But how? What sort of characteristics should we be working on to be considered CEO material, say, about 20 years from now? It's never too early to start thinking about this!
According to Adam Bryant, author of The New York Times "Corner Office" column, there are five main qualities that current CEOs agree make a good employee (which I'm sure we think we already are) really stand out as someone who's got the potential to GO PLACES. Below, I've outlined them briefly adding a few of my own thoughts.
Passionate curiosity - Well, I always knew "passion" and "curiosity" were good qualities to list on your resume, but put them together and bam! They have a whole new meaning. I like how Bryant compares those with passionate curiosity to a 5 year old, someone who is truly interested in how the world around them works. That's how we should be about our industry, our clients, our roles, the strategy, the processes, our competitors.
Battle-hardened confidence - Here is another combo description, it's not just confidence anymore, but it has to be battle-hardened. Makes me feel like I should dress up as a Braveheart warrior or something. Good old fashioned confidence just isn't enough anymore, it's not the kind of confidence that will carry you through failure and adversity, which are two things hiring managers love to quiz you on during interviews. Personally, I hate thinking about my failures, let alone talking about them. Talk about a confidence bust. Yeah, I need to work on this one.
Team smarts - This has got to be one of the hardest traits to come by. There are so many smart people out there who are hard workers, but terrible team members. And honestly, I think we all fall in the terrible category every now and then, no? And we blame it on somebody else on the team. Bryant quotes Susan Lyne, CEO of the Gilt Groupe who I think says it perfectly: "The people who truly succeed in business are the ones who actually have figured out how to mobilize people who are not their direct reports."
A simple mind-set - So often we complicate things because we think it will make ourselves appear smarter, when in reality we are frustrating those around us and wasting precious time. I think it's funny how older generations often give younger ones a bad rap for texting and using Twitter, but I think it's kind of a good thing. Consider this amazing op-ed article, also found in The New York Times, by an English professor. He proposes shorter, simpler (not to be mistaken with "easier") writing assignments instead of always assigning the standard 10+-page term papers; think photo captions and eBay descriptions. Interesting, huh? He says, "Rewarding concision [and may I add, simplicity] first will encourage students to be economical and innovative with language."
Fearlessness - Not me. Ha. I can't kill a spider. I hate sports because I'm afraid of getting hurt (a black eye from playing softball during junior high P.E. class is a completely valid reason, right?). In this case, fearlessness is more about smart and calculated risk-taking in the workplace, so how would you rate yourself in this area? Bryant says entrepreneurs are a good example of embodying a type of fearlessness. Well, I do consider myself entrepreneurial since I currently work from home running my own PR business. OK, I feel a little better now.
So, do you think you've got CEO potential?