A senior or c-suite technology executive hire is one of the most important decisions a business can make.
Technical executives have a tremendous impact on a company’s performance, its strategy, and its culture.
The right executive can, with support from their colleagues, reshape the business’s position in a competitive market and realign strategy for maximum profitability. Or, they can cause the business to stagnate, to fail to meet its potential.
The secret is to find an executive candidate with the right mix of strategic, technical, and leadership skills. Every position requires a different mix of capabilities and experience.
The best executive recruitment specialists are used to analyzing a firm’s needs and matching them with candidates.
They know what businesses require in their next executive hire.
4 Qualities Senior / C-suite Technology Executives Must Have
1. Technical and Functional Expertise
Technical or technology executives lead the teams responsible for providing technical services and developing technology-based product lines.
Technical leaders are also tasked with the cultivation of new technological capabilities within an organization.
They must have a deep understanding of current and emerging technologies in their area, but, more than that, they must appreciate how those technologies can be applied to real-world markets.
The markers of expertise for technology executives are:
- A track record of successful technology leadership,
- The respect of fellow experts in the same field, and
- The ability to communicate their knowledge to other members of the team.
2. A History of Strategic Thinking
Technology/technical executives require a profound knowledge of the relevant technologies. But technical expertise isn’t enough, and deep expertise doesn’t always (or often) imply leadership ability.
Strategic thinking is a key differentiating factor between a technology expert and a technology leader.
Executives who are skilled at strategic thinking:
- Can analyze markets, resources, and challenges.
- Create plans and make choices that empower businesses to take advantage of future opportunities.
- Are comfortable with ambiguity, but rigorous enough to use the information available to them to the business’s benefit.
Technical executive candidates should demonstrate not only an understanding of strategic thinking but a history of having applied strategic thinking with positive results, throughout their career.
3. Soft Skills
Leaders have to be able to lead, and soft skills make an important contribution to communicating with and inspiring a team.
The term “soft skills” encompasses a wide range of abilities that are not easily quantified. They include communication, leadership skills, conflict resolution, team building, and decisiveness.
In particular, technology executives must be able to conceptualize and explain complex issues, and work with others to build strategic plans that often involve many stakeholders.
4. A Vision for Their Role in the Business
So far, we’ve covered strategic thinking, technical skills, and the soft skills a leader needs to lead well.
What remains is a vision that harnesses those capabilities to the benefit of the business.
An executive hired to cultivate technical expertise in others and apply their own expertise to the development of products and services must possess certain qualities:
- A view on how that is to be achieved, and
- How their skills fit with the specific needs of the business that hires them.
These qualities mark the difference between a competent candidate and a candidate who will be a competitive advantage for their employer.
When interviewing a candidate, executive recruitment specialists will ask them to explain their vision of the role they will play in the business.
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Dean Madison is the president of TD Madison & Associates, an executive recruitment firm founded on the principle of providing a more predictable approach for evaluating the culture, strategic fit and qualifications of potential candidates for key senior level positions within the cable and telecom industries. Follow them on Twitter @TD_Madison.