How to Master C-Level Transitions and Talent Development
Interview Leadership

How to Master C-Level Transitions and Talent Development

Recruitment, onboarding, and development of people for the key roles of an organization are essential focuses for business leaders and owners. I recently had the opportunity to have a thought-provoking call about those with Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae, the Chair at Posti Group, Finnair, BoConcept A/S, and various other companies. I learned valuable strategies for handling C-level transitions and developing executive talent, which I am excited to share with you.

From Hiring to Onboarding

I actually began this journey collecting the best interview questions for hiring CEOs or C-levels from the likes of Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae, Risto Siilasmaa, Mikko Kuitunen, and Kirsi Piha. With our team, we’ve compiled these insights into a guide titled “The Best Recruitment Questions to Find a Leader.”

Afterwards, I extended the conversation with Sanna because I wanted to learn more—what is crucial after the recruitment?

How to Efficiently Conduct C-Level Integration and Onboarding

Finding the right candidate for a C-level position is only the beginning of a journey. The following integration and onboarding process is important to ensuring a smooth transition and long-term success for new executives. Sanna emphasizes a couple of key points, one of which is onboarding with a focus on people and communications.

”Biggest mistake people make is that they jump into the business. And what they should do is to jump into the people.”

Sanna recommends incoming executive members to prioritize establishing interpersonal relationships within the team before diving into strategic projects. It is important to encourage new C-level executives to engage deeply with each management team member. This allows them to lay a foundation of trust and mutual understanding from the start.

Furthermore, Sanna highlights that the advent of new leadership often calls for a reevaluation of team dynamics.

She advocates for leaders to reevaluate and refresh teams with purpose. It is beneficial to utilize assessments and performance metrics for evaluating team effectiveness and cohesion. Adopting this analytical approach enables new leaders to make informed decisions regarding team structure and growth.

”You need to learn the people you work with from three areas: their knowledge, their value fit with the company, their motivational drivers.”

Watch the Full Interview Sanna

How Do You Know It’s Time to Change a Person in a C-Level Position?

If someone is underperforming, it is pretty simple to decide that it is time to let them go. However, simply reflecting on their performance today is not enough. They might have good results today, but it still might not mean that they are the right person for the job. It’s important to evaluate their capability to strategize and foster future growth.

“Do you have the right person in place to get the company, division, or team to where it needs to be in 4-5 years?” she asks, emphasizing the importance of foresight and adaptation in leadership roles.

Transitions can also occur swiftly and unexpectedly. That’s why Sanna highlights the importance of proactiveness. “You should have a plan B ready for everybody, because you can be driven over by a bus tomorrow.” Therefore, ensuring a comprehensive succession plan that covers potential internal and external candidates for crucial roles is essential. Such preparedness facilitates smooth transitions, reducing interruptions to the organization’s operations and maintaining its momentum.

How Can Your Executive Team Stay Ahead of the Curve?

Our conversation also delved into the realm of C-level talent development, a critical aspect not just for newcomers but for all leaders. Continuous learning and self-initiated professional growth are pivotal, with Sanna advising leaders to stay curious and proactive.

“My most notable CEOs do a couple of things: one, especially the younger generation, they all have coaches. They understand the importance of having support around them. The second element is that they are actively seeking opportunities to expand their skills and knowledge in many fields.”

It’s beneficial to foster a culture of curiosity and proactivity among your C-level executives regarding their professional development. Highlight the importance of self-initiated learning and the pursuit of knowledge in emerging areas like AI and innovation management.

Also, it’s important to remember that they don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Enlisting the help of a great coach comes highly recommended, as well as tapping into learning communities. Encourage your team to engage in forums and networks dedicated to their peers. These platforms can offer invaluable opportunities for sharing experiences, challenges, and strategies, contributing to your personal and professional development.

“You learn nothing in your own office. You have to go out there.”

Sanna also mentioned her attendance at the Nordic Business Forum as an example of a learning opportunity for herself. Even one valuable idea in such an inspiring environment can make a drastic difference. That’s why we have designed Nordic Business Forum for forward-thinking professionals. The event promises to transform hours of solitary learning into engaging, insightful sessions led by world’s top business experts. It’s the place where 6500+ growth-minded leaders gather together to both learn from each other and from the speakers. Check out our next event and join our business community!

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