In a fast paced world, advantages in the marketplace are often measured in the space of a quarter or two, making the job of today’s executive one of the most challenging positions possible.  Not only do they need to stay on top of the market, but they also have a myriad of compliance rules that did not exist 20 years ago.

Here are some current major issues facing someone in an executive position:


The pace of innovation has increased over the past decade, even in niche markets, making it difficult for companies that have had success in the past to continue to stay on top unless they are prepared to compete almost instantly.  The door lock market is a pretty good example.  Several years ago, although there was innovation in the industry, a group put together a smartphone application that allowed you to work with their new door lock and completely control your home remotely.  They had a lot of initial success and they disrupted the industry.  The main players had executives that decided to introduce their own versions, which put them back on top in the space of a couple of years.

Meanwhile, the electronics industry realized that they could now compete with new door locks and they added new locks to the market that disrupted the bellwether firms again.  Consequently, today, there are more players in the industry than before.  An executive in that industry would have to be acutely aware of the competition in order to make the necessary strategic moves to remain successful.


Believe it or not, despite the latest advancements in food science and exercise equipment, executives continue to need to be wary about their health because of the amount of stress that they are exposed to.   In fact, in recognition of the reality that executives and employees can at times get overloaded and pick up bad habits, many companies allow drug rehab program time and alcohol abuse prevention programs in order to give executives the support that they need to get back to full performance.

Beyond personal health, there are now security risks like sonic weapons that executives need to exercise caution around because they are capable of lowering IQ and adversely affecting one’s health. In most cases, reported attacks upon executives have been clustered on the West Coast of the United States. Nonetheless, even though many Silicon Valley firms are now installing sonic sensors at their locations, it is definitely food for thought for firms across North America to review their security plans for executives and employees.

Going cross-functional

If there is a criticism about American executives from abroad, it is normally that they don’t follow some of the other countries’ career paths and broaden their cross-functional skills.

In Japan, many new hires work a year in sales,a year in finance and then a year in management, and so on.  They eventually settle into their roles in an area that suits their ability.  The upshot is that with that wider base to draw from, they can be better at understanding the big picture that is so important at an executive level. When you juxtapose that with American executives that often spend much of their formative years in one area, you find that Americans in the finance department might lose out to the sales department more frequently than they would if they all had cross-training. So for executives that plan for the future, bringing an element of cross-training in can help them develop the talent that they need for the company to continue.

There are a lot of challenges that executives face in today’s world. By focusing on development, innovation, and keeping one’s own health, those that are not already CEO put themselves in position to be so.


by: Vincent Stokes