What are the perfect ingredients for C-suite?

There has been a lot of research done on teams and management teams during the past 20 years. There is, however, not one single truth or outcome from all of this research other than Diversity is the key for successful team. I came across one recent study that was particularly focused on what is required at the C-suite which I found interesting .The global executive search and advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates Center for Leadership Insight analysed the leadership and behavioural styles of over 7,000 executives in the firm’s proprietary database, with a focus on six key roles: CEO, CFO, CMO, CHRO, CIO/CTO and general counsel. The research discovered that optimal C-suite involves a balance of diverse personalities and perspectives, along four dimensions:

  1. Orientation toward process and structure: Some executives are highly organised in their thinking, focused on clear processes and approaches; others are more intuitive, preferring to make decisions “in the moment”.
  2. Sociability: Some in the C-suite are extroverted, persuasive and dynamic in their communication style, while others tend to be more introverted, allowing the extroverts to do the persuading for them.
  3. Worldview: Some executives tend towards an optimistic worldview, while others are more sceptical.
  4. Creativity: Some are more imaginative and innovative; others are more realistic, and build on the ideas of others.
The research concluded that a well-balanced C-suite on the other hand produces ‘harmonious dissonance’ – continual and dynamic back-and-forth debate and resolution that leads to effective problem solving. I think this is  so true in my experience. The point is not to have an average of these qualities represented on a team but rather leaders who represent the polarities of the dimensions. That means that the team will need to learn to be comfortable with continuous debating and challenging. I work with a lot of team where that is unfortunately not the case. There is a discomfort with what many people perceive as conflicts. That may be one of the reasons why many executives feel tempted to surround themselves with individuals who strongly resemble them, whether strategically, psychologically or even physically.