December 12, 2010

Do You Stand a Chance to Become CEO?

Career progression is an upward journey on a “pyramid with a single top” which means at any given point in time only one employee in the whole organization stands the chance to become CEO. Understanding the “pyramid with a single top” concept of career progression is quite important for guessing the answer to this all important question for any employee – “do you stand a chance to become CEO?”

Progressing to the top of corporate hierarchy - do you stand a chance?

The likelihood that one employee amongst those who have direct reporting to the current CEO will succeed her is probably the highest, though not guaranteed. However, it is possible to guess the answer to thequestion “do you stand a chance to become CEO?” for every employee at various points in her professional career.

So how to tell whether you stand a chance to become CEO or not? There is some likelihood of your becoming CEO one day in the following cases:

You can become CEO if you are working in the core business function and not in the support groups

Those who work in support groups like Quality, HR, and Administration stand virtually no chance. Those who work in support groups like Finance, Sales & Marketing, and Business Development are exception to this rule. The employees in Quality, HR, and Administration do stand a chance to become CEO but only in those organizations which specialize in providing such services.

You can become CEO if you are in the right chain of reporting

This is where “Mother Luck” works for or against an employee. If the reporting manager of an employee is not considered as a top performer then her team gets labeled in a similar manner. This phenomenon starts with the CEO, passes through all employees in particular chains of reporting and goes all the way down to the junior-mostemployee. Being in the wrong chain of reporting is detrimental to the career progression of an employee. Unfortunately, an employee generally will not get to choose her manager; it’s always the other way round.

You can become CEO if you are liked by the people higher up in your chain of reporting

Performance does matter but is not enough. The people higher up in an employee’s chain of reporting should like her. The key point is that an employee should be seen as “ready for promotion” and hence fit to take bigger and more challenging assignments. Being liked is unfortunately based mostly on perceptions and is very subjective. An employee should always attempt to build good relations with people higher up in her chain of reporting and with the others as well.

You can become CEO if you are not caught amidst office politics and ego issues

An employee despite playing the ‘corporate game’ in an adept manner can at times get caught in office politics and ego issues for no fault of hers. Some of such incidents can prove to be fatal for that employee’s career. In another scenario, an acquisition or organizational restructuring can abruptly make an employee’s career bite the dust in no time. An employee cannot do much in certain situations which are beyond control and at best can only pray silently.

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