Check out “The New Path to the C-Suite” (http://hbr.org/2011/03/the-new-path-to-the-c-suite/ar/1), and you’ll notice the absence of a reference to the Chief Communications Officer. (More on that later.) The piece describes a study by a Harvard B-school assistant professor and Heidrick & Struggles that charts the evolution of C-level positions and their requirements for the future. They researched imperatives over time for the CEO, CIO, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer (yes, they’ve combined), CFO, Chief Supply Chain Management Officer, General Counsel (increasingly at the CEO’s side) and Chief Human Resources Officer (not at the CEO’s side enough, which is why – the authors infer – an increasing number of CHROs come into this role from other parts of the company).
Bottom line: Technical skills are the ante for all C-level positions; exceptional business acumen and integrative thinking are mandatory. And “soft” skills – communication, empathy, collaboration – have become hard requirements as well. The most important skill for the top job? The ability to gain public trust as the face of the company.
So what about the CCO? We could speculate that Heidrick & Struggles doesn’t do much recruiting in this arena. Less cynically, it may be that the need to study CCOs and other evolving C titles hasn’t hit the research team’s radar. (Reader comments noted the absence of other C-level positions – Sustainability Officers, Strategy Officers, Security Officers, the COO…)
Whatever the reason, there’s no speculating about this: The skills and insights that CCOs bring are critical to the public trust-building imperative identified by the authors as Job One for today’s and tomorrow’s CEOs. Recalling the CEO interviews that formed the Page Society’s Authentic Enterprise report, our leaders want and need our business acumen, our integrative thinking, and the skills and insights that we bring to the trust-building mandate.
Chair and Chief Executive Officer
Padilla Speer Beardsley
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