What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up as a CVO
The emerging C-Suite title Chief Visionary Officer is not yet well defined and is sometimes used to characterize a function rather than an actual title. Simon Sinek, for example, asserts that CEOs should function as Chief Visionary Officers. Infogalactic.com reports that “CVO” is sometimes added to the CEO title, as in CEO/CVO status, especially when the CEO is also the founder. In other cases, CVO is a title given to someone in a high-level advisory position or even an individual ranking higher than the CEO.
The closest cousin to the CVO role is Chief Strategy Officer, and the functions of these roles may overlap. Like some other roles in the C-Suite, CVO is often added in the face of accelerating change that might overwhelm the CEO. “CVO is typically a high-ranking executive who performs executive duties,” writes Shea Hoffman, “but with added responsibilities of creating a forward vision for the company, especially if they are operating in a fairly new industry.”
Key Competencies for the CVO Role
The Chief Visionary Officer role does not yet have enough of a track record to be accompanied by a standard set of critical skills and traits and thus must include the core-competencies and business acumen of every executive, but descriptions of what various CVOs are doing provide an overview of applicable competencies. Obviously, the ability to imagine and visualize a successful future for the organization is key. CVOs are typically charged with creating a corporate vision, business strategy, and plan for execution.
When preparing career-marketing communications to send to employers, those aspiring to the CVO role should emphasize these qualities:
- Visionary mindset and ideation that sets the strategic course and moves the organization forward
- Ability to oversee high-growth initiatives
- Disruptive change management
- Skilled in collaboration and strategic partnering
- Competent at fostering employee engagement
- Skilled at business transformation
- Ability to execute
Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CVO role, expand their horizons in an existing CVO role, or even rise beyond the CVO role:
- Apply your entrepreneurial background. As noted, Chief Visionary Officers are often also founders of startups. What could be more visionary than starting your own company? Emphasize this background when pursuing a CVO role. “I think the startup environment or mindset accelerates your understanding of business,” says Bryon Beilman, CEO of Iuvo Technologies, “because you are not siloed, and everyone is focused on getting the product or service to market.”
- Propose the position. Chief Visionary Officer appears to be a position that is not often advertised (searches on LinkedIn and Indeed for this post produced zero results); thus, the opportunity to propose that a company create the position (for you to fill) is open. If the organization you’re in – or an external organization you’ve researched – seems especially in need of strategy and vision, why not build a case for yourself as Chief Visionary Officer? Smaller, newer companies may be especially in need of a CVO.
- Look for opportunities to be the CEO’s right hand. Given that CVOs often take on the strategic challenges that overwhelm the CEO, research situations, both with your current employer and outside employers, where the CEO might need this kind of support.
- Polish your communication skills. “It doesn’t matter how great you are at getting your job done if you can’t speak about accomplishments, your vision for the company, and communicate fresh, new ideas effectively,” notes company co-founder Victoria Bogner.
- Take the lead during company changes. Change comes rapidly and frequently in business and is closely tied to the vision component. Step up to participate in change initiatives to show your visionary and change-management qualities. Volunteer for the toughest assignments.