C-Suite Insight: Sharpen Your Skills and Never Stop Learning

shutterstock_176015801-webAs leaders of their company, C-suite executives are often viewed as extraordinary figures who have reached what seems to be the highest point of their professional game. It is sometimes assumed that these individuals have little to improve upon since they are in such an esteemed position. This is simply not true. The real key to success as a C-level executive is the ability to continue developing and honing crucial skills, while also having a passion to continually learn new things.

Below are two of the top skills that every C-suite executive should possess.

  • Adaptability- As the famous quote by Heraclitus states, “One thing that is constant is change.” In the Property Casualty insurance industry, those words are truer than ever. From an increased influx of millennial employee hires to new technologies that affect daily processes, the industry is in a constant state of change. A C-suite executive’s ability to adapt to and embrace this change is a skill that is crucial to their success, and has a two-pronged significance. First, upper level management must be able to continually adapt to unexpected situations and decipher the best action to take for the betterment of the company. Everyone, clients and colleagues alike, look to the C-suite to lead through times of change by making the crucial decisions that count. Second, C-suite executives should also be the one to create and implement this change. Possessing an innovative mindset that continually seeks out and welcomes new processes and perspectives is what will make themselves and their company truly successful.
  • Relationship-building- Every company is made up of different kinds of employees and deals with all types of clients. As leaders, the members of the C-suite must know how to successfully build and maintain relationships in order for their business to thrive. In a Q &A article by Carrier Management, Farmers Insurance Group Chief Operations Officer (COO) David Traverse says, “I believe with all my heart that you should never take this job if you do not like interacting with people,” when asked about the required qualities of a COO. He goes on to say, “We are paid to be on our game—to manage relationships, and to do it in a way that gives comfort and security to the people that are counting on us. It’s a people job.”

In addition to possessing important skills, upper level employees in the Property Casualty insurance industry need to be committed to continual learning. Successful C-suite leaders know that they must continue to grow, both personally and professionally, if they want to see success for their company and themselves.

Below are two steps company leaders can take to continue career development: 

  • Ask for feedback. One of the easiest ways to learn more about how you can maintain current success or even improve in your position is to simply ask the opinions of those around you. One of the greatest gifts a leader can ever receive is feedback. From the members of your team to your supervisors, everyone can bring a fresh perspective you may initially miss because you are focused in your current responsibilities. These are the people who know your company and industry, so their opinion can be incredibly valuable to the advancement of your career. Feedback fuels the truest form of professional development. 
  • Continue your education. An article by Brett Gleason in Inc.com says, “Leaders usually know that their people need training and development. The smartest leaders understand that the same applies to them–and that the need is ongoing.” Even in a C-level position, there is still so much left to learn and achieve. You’ve invested so much in your initial education and career thus far, stopping when you are in the most influential and important position is a mistake. Whether it’s going back to school, acquiring new certifications, attending educational conferences or seeking out a mentor, there are several ways to pursue self-improvement and career development.