As any seasoned entrepreneur knows, building a strong leadership team is critical for the success of any organization. When it comes to hiring C-suite executives, there are many factors to consider, including experience, expertise and cultural fit. However, there are certain nonnegotiable traits that should be at the top of every leader's list when evaluating candidates.
Below, seven Young Entrepreneur Council members explain which traits are critical for C-suite hires and how those traits can impact their ability to lead effectively. By looking for these traits during the interview process, leaders can make better hiring decisions and build stronger, more resilient organizations.
The trait I most look for is adaptability because the only constant in business is change—whether it be changing market conditions, changing offerings or changing team dynamics. When a leader is able to take change in stride and even embrace it, that makes for a powerful way to nurture a business within its ecosystem. This impacts how the rest of the team interacts with this leader, as well as the decisions that are made and the resulting financial returns. - Nathalie Lussier, AccessAlly
2. An Ability To Articulate Ideas
A critical aspect of this position is exemplifying authority. Public speaking and presentations provide these opportunities for company representatives. Presentation skills are a must for this level for many reasons, but the most important one is that these executives are typically the first company salespeople. They sell the vision, policies and objectives to internal and external groups. Good salespeople articulate their product or service well and inspire others to take action. Mastering the ability to articulate ideas in front of an audience can be a powerful tool for rebuilding confidence and challenging existing company dynamics. By engaging with diverse audiences, they build the potential to open up new possibilities within themselves and the team's approach toward their work. - Tonika Bruce, Lead Nicely, Inc.
3. Life Experience
I had a young professional with a stellar academic background and some noteworthy accolades apply for a job at our firm. After interviewing them, I learned that they had no real-life customer service experience or the 10,000 hours of experience necessary to become an expert that Malcolm Gladwell refers to in his book Outliers. It's difficult to hire someone for a leadership position when they have no experience actually leading a team. John Maxwell, the author of The 5 Levels of Leadership, illustrates this well. He calls the lowest level of leadership "Position" because the person is a leader because of their position. The best leaders are the type that build up other leaders, and you need life experience to do that. This includes failures, adversity and some wisdom. - Givelle Lamano, Lamano Law Office
4. Emotional Stability
Emotional stability is possibly the most crucial personal quality brands should seek when hiring C-suite executives. These people need to remain composed and level-headed under pressure because they will be in charge of making critical decisions that could influence the entire company. C-suite executives who are emotionally stable are better equipped to think clearly and make rational decisions than those who are easily affected by their feelings or the views of others. Additionally, they can overcome obstacles and failure better because of their improved resilience. For C-suite employees to effectively lead their firms and have a good influence, emotional stability is crucial. Brands will benefit from hiring C-suite executives who value this trait. - Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz
5. An Ability To Inspire And Motivate
One nonnegotiable trait I look for in a C-suite hire is the ability to inspire and motivate. This is essential for any leader to be successful, as their team needs to believe in their vision and be motivated to help make it happen. A leader who can inspire others gives them the confidence and enthusiasm to take on difficult tasks and helps create a collaborative environment that can help bring out the best in everyone. This type of leadership also encourages creativity and innovation, which can help an organization stay ahead of the competition. Ultimately, having a leader who can inspire and motivate will help foster a culture of success and drive the organization toward its goals. - Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage
6. An Ability To Lead
I look for strong leadership skills. C-suite candidates must be able to lead their teams while also managing a complex company. They must have a strong understanding of the strategy and vision of the company, and they must be able to communicate this vision effectively with employees to keep them inspired and motivated. - Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
7. A Solution-Oriented Mindset
One nonnegotiable trait that I look for in C-suite hires is a solution-oriented mindset. This skill alone answers many questions for me and helps me assess a candidate's profile. A solution-oriented mind strives to make things better rather than dwell on what could or should have been. That's extremely important for me when I'm hiring for a high-tier position. The skill enables the candidate to take ownership from the get-go and prioritize the betterment of the company above all else. This also has a strong impact on a candidate's ability to lead as they inspire others to think outside the box and contribute to the growth-oriented culture of the company. - Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms