Way to the Top of the Corporate Pyramid Part I – A guide to Executive Success

Way to the Top of the Corporate Pyramid –

Part I – A guide to Executive Success

Sankara Ramnath

Sankara Ramnath

The way to the top of the corporate pyramid is to cross the three levels of management namely the junior level, the middle level and the top level of management, to reach the ultimate pinnacle, the position of the CEO.

On the way to the top, executives need to effectively manage three main things or areas:

1. Functions – covering functional expertise like production, selling and marketing, administration, finance, accounting and other functions for operations of the company.

2. Resources – namely human resources and physical resources like machinery, materials, money and other assets required for operations.

3. Growth – including Long term Business Planning, Strategies and Policies, and other macro issues relating to the Company.

At each level of management, executives are required to engage themselves in more than one of the above areas namely functions, resources and growth. However the content, scope and importance of the respective areas are different at each level.

The following matrix gives a snapshot of the levels of management and the respective areas they manage.


F – Function; R – Resource; G – Growth

At the junior level of management, executives would be required to spend most of their time in managing their respective Functions. At this level they need to be experts in their functions, having the necessary knowledge, experience and skill, to carry out their roles effectively. Their area of operation is limited and so are the resources at their disposal. However they would be required to manage those limited resources. They are not required to manage growth at the macro level for the company, which is the role of the top management.

At the top level of management, executives would be spending their time in managing Growth. They would be involved with the vision and mission for the Company. They would be responsible for business plan, strategies and policies having long term implications. While all the resources would be at their command, they would be required to plan and allocate resources, rather than manage them on a day to day basis. They would rarely be required to use their functional expertise. In fact, top management executives often complain, jocularly, that they have forgotten their basic functional knowledge learnt when they were in college.

At the middle level management, executives would be involved in managing all the three areas namely Functions, Resources and Growth. They are also the bridge between the junior level and top level management. They are involved in giving inputs and analysis to the top management for the long term plans, and once the business plans are made, get the same executed through the junior level management. In that context, they are sandwiched between the top and the junior levels. Also at this stage, generally they are at an age, where their family is expanding and their family responsibilities are also on the rise. At this level, time management is a major challenge.

The ability and willingness required in managing functions, resources and growth, is different at each level of management.  The content, type and extent of knowledge, experience, and skill, vary at different points in the corporate career.

Most Executives do not realise this important aspect of career planning. This is one of the main reasons why executives flounder on the way to the top. As Marshall Goldsmith says “What got you here, Won’t get you there”.

So, how do you plan your way to the top of the Corporate Pyramid?

You can do this by setting SMART goals, preparing an action plan and upgrading yourself to meet the challenges, ahead of each level.

So, what are you waiting for?

Prepare to Rise and Surge in your career.

Sankara Ramnath

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