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.

How to Gain a Competitive Edge During Summer

By: Iwalani De Los Santos

In the coming weeks the World Cup will bring competition into the global spotlight and has us considering how individual coordination, energy, and teamwork can yield victory when it comes to a job search.  soccerCandidates come to us for résumé development, interview preparation, and ultimately how to score their desired career opportunity.  How can you be positioned ahead of the pack to score that goal?

Pre-Season Conditioning: Enhance Your Skills

Players expecting to make the cut for their nation’s World Cup team can’t take a break in their off-season.  Top competitors continue to hone their skills, advance their moves, and stay in peak physical condition.  Why shouldn’t you do the same?  How are you enhancing your skills?  How are you staying in peak condition?  Have you ever considered that you are in a very unique situation when searching for that next opportunity?  You may ask “how is that unique?” quite simply; YOU are the product that is being marketed.   As such, how are you enhancing yourself and your value?  Have you strengthened your resume, sharpened your interviewing skills, enrolled in continuing education or licensing courses?  Have you differentiated yourself by volunteering in the community?  These are simply a few suggestions that will help condition you to be the star-player when it’s time to compete.

Play Offense: You Have the Ball

Historically speaking, summer time is usually a slower period when it comes to interviewing and hiring.  Many companies bring on new hires in the spring or fall and most have already filled their openings with new college graduates before summer.  Don’t let this deter you from applying or sending your resume to a hiring authority.  In fact, you can get a jump on the competition while there are fewer contenders in the game.  Be proactive by submitting your resume, use social media to remain well connected, and work alongside an industry insider, when necessary.  After years of the ‘Great Recession’ hiring drought, employers are identifying and hiring great candidates, sometimes before posting roles on their career board.  If a hiring manager is looking for talent, make your moves count and be on offense.

Be a Midfielder: Expand Your Chances to Score a Goal

Soccer players always keep an eye out for any opportunity to score a goal.  They must capitalize on a variety of vantage points on the field for success.   Likewise, approach your job search with an open-mind, continuously update your perspective, and modernize your target job.  Have you considered widening your scope of possible relocation regions, exploring a lateral opportunity to broaden your skills and qualifications, or taking a calculated risk to go for that next position on the corporate ladder?  We believe it’s important to remember that you aren’t looking for a ‘job’; you are looking for the right career opportunity for your skill set and experience.  You never know, taking a shot from an unlikely angle could lead you to score a life changing opportunity for you and your family.

Teamwork: Strategize Your Strengths & Weaknesses

Every great team has their rising stars, veterans, support staff, and coaches.  Each part of the team must work together to develop their individual talents and provide support in areas that need improvement. How each team handles their unique combination of strengths and weaknesses will determine their success.  From our perspective as recruiters, it’s essentially  the same game plan: a candidate who seeks a new role should know their individual strengths, find out how to limit their weaknesses, network with “veterans” in your area of interest, and rely on “coaches” like Coleman Search Group (CSG) to help you navigate the field.

Set yourself apart from the pack and attract prospective companies by taking an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.  There are many resources and methods to assess your strengths and learn about your personal attributes.  Knowing how to advance a player’s strengths and how to reduce weakness creates a healthy balance for any winning team.  Once you assess your abilities, seek out professionals with a solid reputation in your business – they will provide sound advice to help you advance in your field.  Next, you may consider using a “coach” to help you prepare and provide strategies for your job search.  Coaching makes a difference and the right “coach” can help you succeed and give you a personalized training plan.  Last, but not least, lean on your family and friends as you consider new responsibilities, relocation options and your career dreams.  Carefully consider their feedback because they know you well and can be some of your biggest fans!