Characteristics of a best in class CPO

Gurjit Degun
15 September 2014

The most successful CPOs “have highly developed interpersonal skills” and create an environment that “fosters the development of trust”.

CPOs in the C-Suite, research by Korn Ferry, also said that best in class CPOs are strong at “developing high-performing and collaborative teams, and enhancing cross-functional relationships”.

It added: “A best in class CPO demonstrates a mental tenacity in the face of complex and persistent problems, but also remains calm and professional under pressure”.

The study explained that the difference between CPOs and CEOs comes down to leadership style, the way they think and emotional competencies. It therefore recommended that a CPO looking to become a CEO should:

Increase use of social and participative styles of leading. “CEOs spend a great deal of time cultivating relationships (social) with diverse parties, including investors, analysts, and customers; exposure to this greater diversity of people instills confidence,” the research said. “Best in class CEOs are also skilled at getting other people’s input and listening (participative) to find solutions to problems.”

Increase action orientation. According to the study, CEOs have “a deliberate action focus and are not bothered by making a move before they have all the information”.

Increase empathy, energy, and confidence. Korn Ferry recommends that CPOs should build upon existing strengths in “reading the room (empathy) and handling complex issues, as well as the complexity of multiple issues (energy), while expanding one’s comfort level with taking risks (confidence)”.

The report added: “The bottom line for CPOs is to ask for more. And also do more. CPOs with greater aspirations need to actively manage their careers and seek to gain visibility on the senior team and recognition as a strategic contributor. At the same time, they need to attend to their personal skills and attributes, by developing the qualities that will make them attractive candidates when the next opportunity arises.”

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