How do you picture yourself in five to ten years? That's one of the most common questions job seekers hear in interviews. Just as leading an organization requires planning and vision, so does mapping out a successful career. If you see yourself in a top leadership position, you likely already know you need to start your journey to an executive job by developing your potential and charting your course now.

There's not just one way to earn a promotion to the C-suite. However, you can be sure that today's successful executives planned their journeys and prepared for their roles. Businesses rarely succeed by accident, and neither do their leaders.

What is the C-Suite?

The “C” in C-suite stands for “Chief.” Thus, the C-suite refers to the offices that house the chief officers for an organization. For instance, the chief executive officer, or CEO, leads the entire organization. Typically, he or she also serves as the company's public image. A few of today's famous CEOs include Elon Musk of Tesla, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Meg Whitman of HP. Not only are these business leaders known for their leadership, they have also developed images that people tend to associate with their companies.

Some other top executives include chiefs of finance, technology, information, marketing, and operations. These executives strategically guide their own departments and work with the CEO to govern the entire business. In time, some of these leaders will step up to take over their own company or other ventures. While there's not just one way to join their ranks, it's important to consider the steps that successful executives have taken in the past to earn an office in the C-Suite.

Are Business Executives Born or Made?

Of course, only a small percentage of employees make it to the executive suite. A recent survey from the Center for Creative Leadership asked executives from around the world if they believed that business leaders were born or made. These were the results of this survey:

  • Over half responded that executives grew into their jobs by developing leadership qualities and not just because of some inherent characteristics.
  • About a third of the respondents believed that both inborn talent and learned skills played a part.
  • A minority of less than twenty percent said that good executives were born to lead.

This suggests that people with the potential for executive positions can develop the right qualities if they have the desire. Certainly, a good aptitude for solving problems and motivating others will help. Still, the most important inborn traits may simply include the drive and desire to learn and lead. For instance, David Bookmire, an executive advisor for major companies, suggested that it's a lack of development, more than any lack of talent, that hinders the journey to the C-suite and later success in top roles.

He illustrated that by mentioning examples of CEOs who did very well leading one company and then failed in their next job at a new business. He believed that these CEOs rested too much on the virtues that help them do well at their first business and failed to keep developing to master different sets of circumstances and business challenges.

Why Consider an Advanced Business Program to Develop Your Skills?

Not only will the right degree program — MBA, Ph.D. in Business, etc.— help you learn more about business and leadership, it can help you grow your network with fellow students, professors, and participating companies.

At University of the Cumberlands, our advanced business degree programs include classroom study, close relationships with industry-experienced professors, and a curriculum that offers insights into current trends and business news. 

If you're looking for the right program to help you develop and hone executive-level skills, you don't have to look any further than University of the Cumberlands. You will benefit from professors with real-world experience, competitive tuition, and an all-around high-quality experience. You can choose between an MBA, Master of Science, or doctoral programs in a number of fields to suit your interests or current career. Obtain more information today to begin developing your leadership potential.