What do you need to move into top management?

Traditionally senior roles are filled by those who hold MBA’s or university degrees combined with a depth of on-the-job industry experience. It’s rare for a director or CEO to be without such a qualification. In fact in the UK, less than 2% of top management got there without a university degree, ether in engineering or finance. But does this mean that this is the only path available to move up into top management?

Many companies are starting to open up to the idea that the best candidates for the job aren’t necessarily the best looking on paper. If you haven’t had the opportunity for formal university education but still have ambitions of heading up a business in a senior management role, then these are three of the skills that you’ll need to master to outmaneuver your competitors:

Charisma – It’s one thing to be able to work with people. It’s another to be able to lead, manage and inspire them to achieve organizational outcomes. Great leaders have a presence and charisma. They win people over and draw people to themselves getting them to buy into ideas, adopting them as their own. A good leader can engage with all types of people on all levels, no matter their background or level of education. They leave people feeling energized, inspired and motivated. This is something a degree can never teach.

Agility – The current marketplace is a dynamic ever changing machine and those businesses who are able to respond quickly to change and opportunity are those more likely to come out on top. Being agile requires a management mindset that is able to evaluate situations and make quick decisions to respond to opportunities or threats as they are identified. This requires not only a thorough understanding of the industry, but also the capability of the business to move quickly to make the most of opportunities. The ability of a leader to mobilise their teams in essential to being agile in a competitive marketplace.

Innovation – Innovation is not just about creating new products or services. It’s about thinking of new ways to do things that are more effective or efficient, even if it goes against the norm or traditional way of thinking. Innovation requires a degree of risk taking and great leaders don’t fear failure as much as they see it as an opportunity to learn and improve what they are doing.