This very thing is addressed in the most recent edition of the Harvard Business Review — what to do for yourself when you think it’s time to move up. The writers found that the higher you go, the less technical skills matter, and the more leadership skills you need. One example they give — someone on the information technology staff needs to know about emerging technology and support, while the CIO needs to know about how technology affects business.
The kind of experience you need to move up depends on the position, of course. On-staff counsel will need to stay up-to-date with privacy, business and perhaps international issues, for example. Supply chain managers will also need to know about international issues.
As the article says:
Going forward, C-level executives will not simply manage their own business areas; they will be active members of the firm’s senior leadership who advise the CEO on key decisions. As one executive recruiter put it, “The C-level person today needs to be more team-oriented, capable of multitasking continuously and leading without rank, and able to resist stress and make sure that his subordinates do not burn out. And he needs to do all of this with a big smile in an open plan office. In other words, we’re looking at a whole new breed of top executive.”
What do you think? Are you a top-level executive who has used some of these skills to advance up the ladder?