Profiling An Effective Chief Strategy Officer

What does a good CSO need?


The Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) is a comparatively new role, but one which has taken on heightened importance as companies adapt to an increasingly volatile marketplace.

It’s also not a role confined to multinationals like Google, Microsoft and Amazon. Smaller companies - those which have less than 500 employees - look to their CSO to shape their company’s direction.

The CSO’s role will also vary considerably from company to company. This is not just dependant on company size, but culture and the marketplace the CSO is trying to negotiate.

There are, however, certain characteristics that successful CSOs should be able to call upon. In this article we take a look at four of them.

The ability to prioritize

With a to-do list that’s a mile long, effective CSOs will need to be able to juggle a number of different tasks at once. Although most jobs require this to some degree, there will be no escaping it for the CSO.

The CSO will prioritize tasks not only based on the capabilities of their team, but also on what’s proven to make the company tick. With the business environment continuing to be unpredictable, the CSO will have to make tough choices on how to take the company forward.

Whenever a strategic proposal is put forward, the CSO will need the foresight to pick and choose which ideas are going to be effective.

Strong leadership skills

The CSO takes up a prominent role on the board and will be the voice of the company when it comes to strategy.

The strategic planning and implementation process involves many people. Many will feel they have interesting ideas which are capable of transforming a company’s strategic success, and it will be up to the CSO to decide which are actually viable.

Decidedly few will actually be acted upon and it will be up to the CSO to make sure the team remains happy, motivated and ready for the next strategic task that’s on the horizon.

Be able to create chemistry

However hard companies try, getting people to enjoy work remains difficult. When a company has a workforce which constantly wants to be somewhere else, motivation and creativity suffer.

It’s up to the CSO to design strategies to get the workforce engaged and wanting to contribute to the business. Many companies opt for an open plan office where communication is easier. This can, if implemented correctly, create camaraderie.

The CSO must get the best out of their team, and creating chemistry is central to this.

Goal orientated

One thing that companies have learnt from high profile failures such as Kodak and Blockbuster, is that an inability to look forward will catch up with you in the end.

The CSO must set achievable, yet optimistic goals for their team and always be aware of the market’s fluctuations. Keeping tabs on technological advances is key to this, as companies find new and effective ways to meet their targets.


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