Successful C-Suite executives excel at communicating priorities, says new McKinsey survey

A new McKinsey survey has found that executives who move effectively into the C-suite also excel at communicating priorities, including creating a shared vision.

The global survey, called Ascending to the C-Suite, asked C-level respondents how they managed the business, culture, team and self-management aspects of their new jobs.

While there is no one single predictor of success in a new role, the survey responses indicated which practices linked most closely to an overall effective transition.

Of the 1,195 C-level executives interviewed, ‘business’ activities was ranked among the most important to overall outcome of the transition, as opposed to ‘culture’, ‘team’ or ‘self’ related activities.

The largest share said it was ‘very’ (44%) or ‘extremely’ (43%) important to create a shared vision and alignment around their strategic direction across the organisation (see Exhibit 2).

Exhibit 2

This was also among the most difficult aspects to carry out with just 30% of respondents (and 39% of those reporting successful transitions) saying it was easy to create a shared vision in their new role.

And executives reporting the most successful transitions stood out from the rest in how they built buy-in and communicated a vision to their teams and their organisations.

Those respondents were nearly twice as likely as others to say their organisations understood their initial priorities well – and were much more effective at communicating which initiatives would not continue (see Exhibit 3).

Exhibit 3

The survey reports that “many of them [C-suite executives] feel they don’t have much practical support”.

This is an area where communications professionals can assist, by helping new chief officers to communicate their vision and priorities, and supporting executives as they grow into their new roles.

Communicators can use their skills to paint vivid pictures of success and to appeal to audiences in both rational and emotional terms. And then to fuse the vision with the organisation’s purpose, and express the benefits to customers, partners and employees.

For the full report and wider survey findings, covering business, culture, team and self, click Ascending to the C-suite

Also see:

McKinsey consultants reveal how companies can transform business with social tools

McKinsey consultants tap the power of ‘hidden influencers’

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