Jun 5 2011
Insider-outsiders – internal employees who have maintained an outsider's objectivity and drive for change – are often considered the ideal candidates for CEO jobs, but how can you gain that mentality? John L Bower, professor at Harvard Business School, outlined the questions you should be asking yourself to get to the CEO executive position, and here are our top 5 (see full video below):
Why are you being hired?
You should have a good understanding of why a company is hiring you. Firstly and somewhat obviously, to do the job, but there are more important things you should be looking for before accepting CEO jobs. Do they develop their staff, are there executive career paths to follow, can you work your way up, or will vertical progression be stalled in a ‘velvet coffin’ situation?
Do you meet your numbers?
It is all well and good talking about growth, development and vision but you need to perform and perform well. If you don’t have a reputation of meeting your commitments you won’t be getting in or possibly anywhere near the game.
Are you transparent?
Are you a straight talker, or do you skirt around the facts? Do you take responsibility for mistakes or do you make excuses? Companies need leaders who get down to the facts, admit there was a problem and know what the solution is. There isn’t time to skirt around the issues and play blame games, if you have a reputation for spin you may have a problem.
Do you manage up?
There seems to be a misconception about bosses, that they’re there to help you, well they’re not. Constantly approaching your superior with issues means that when they see you coming they think “uh oh here’s a problem” or “They’re going to ask me for something”. Don’t approach with problems come with solutions, help your boss, help grow your organization.
Are you developing a network that expands beyond your own division?
To be a good insider-outsider you need to be able to look at your company objectively. There is a whole world of people out there beyond the walls of the office, how better to develop a view of the world outside of your company than to go and talk to them. Talk to your customers and vendors, you might learn something. Develop yourself as someone who contributes by taking on projects in your local community, take what you’ve learned and apply it to your organization.
See full interview with Joseph L. Bower to learn about the many more questions you should be asking yourself when looking for CEO jobs: