If you want to make it to the C-Suite, you'll have to learn to talk the talk.
When was the last time you saw a CEO, CFO or COO position advertised? It’s not very common.
For those who aspire to join the C-suite, recruitment advertising is rarely the first point of entry.
As a general rule, the majority of CEOs, CFOs and COOs are hired at least in part because of their reputations. Some, because of their charisma and flamboyance, need no introduction at all – hence the “rock star” CEO. Virgin’s Richard Branson is a perfect example.
Personality and alignment with the vision of the company can be just as important as the practical skills of a C-suite executive.
The “who knows you” factor is vital, with jobs usually filled through referrals or by executive search firms (headhunters) hired to work on exclusive mandates.
But given the growing importance of cultural fit, when a C-suite position becomes vacant (or a new one is created) a company will often consider internal candidates first.
Although “corporate speak” is often maligned and ridiculed as a communications travesty, it is nonetheless ingrained in modern-day business and, whether you like it or not, the more rungs you climb on the corporate ladder, the more likely you are to have to deal with it.
In other words, you will need to know not only how to walk the walk, but talk the talk.
Following is some of the “buzzier” jargon you’ll likely encounter in the C-suite, as well as some general business jargon currently enjoying its moment in the sun.
50 top business buzz words
A “granular” perspective: To examine something in detail – “course-grained” is to focus on the big picture, “fine-grained” the nitty-gritty.
Deep diving: A liquid, “in-depth” take on the above.
Deep pyramid: The structure of a centralised organisation consisting of many layers.
Excentralise: The trend towards flatter corporate pyramids.
Deliverable: An output, product, result, or outcome.
Paradigm shift: Something revolutionary.
Game changer: A step down from the above.
Ideation: The ability to come up with effective new ideas.
Resonance: The impact of an idea across the organisation.
Vision statement: An explanation of what you one day hope to achieve.
Decruiting: Current euphemism for firing people.
Don’t boil the ocean: Don’t waste time or resources.
Pain points: Mumbo-jumbo for problems or challenges.
Emotional leakage: Anger or disappointment that transfers from one person to another.
Eyebrow management: Arms-length management style in which a top exec can stop a course of action by the slightest hint of disapproval.
Falling forward: Risk management term for a learning process that consists of trying something – a product, strategy or organisational change – and scrapping it for a better idea if it doesn’t work.
Gatekeeper: Any person or department that screens or selects.
Bleeding edge – Leading or cutting edge.
Seamless integration: Patching things together so that nobody will notice.
Pushing the envelope: Testing the boundaries.
Data colouration: White lies that percolate up the line as employees at all levels report the state of their business in the most favourable light.
Quick wins: Results that look good but can be achieved with minimal effort.
Let’s speak “offline”: A one-on-on, face-to-face conversation.
Out-of-the-box: To think outside the box, don’t you still have to think about the box?
Informativity: The degree of efficiency with which a company’s information needs are handled.
Disruptive thinking: Being innovative, only more so.
Intrapreneurship: Innovation and creativity developed within an existing company.
Dawn raid (daybreak attack): A surprise takeover move by a predator company.
Death Valley curve: The stage in a new company’s existence when losses erode its equity base, damaging its ability to raise funds.
Hot button: The thing you push to get a strong response.
EEE sensation: Proceeding in the direction you are moving because it’s “easy, effortless and enjoyable”.
JIC and JIT: Just in case and just in time.
CSF: Critical success factor – be it great service, price, technology, etc.
OVA: Stands for overhead value analysis.
MIPS war: Acronym for speeding up computer power to handle “millions of instructions per second”.
MEGO effect: The impact on an audience by an inept presenter: “My eyes glazed over.”
Organic growth: The expansion of business through internal development.
Golden retriever: A cash bonus that lures a retired executive back into an active business role.
Layered: What happens when your responsibilities are eroded by a new layer of management.
Mushroom management: A management technique that keeps employees in the dark.
High-touch: Management style practised in people-oriented companies, where “touchy-feely” methods are popular.
Poison pill: Debt and other liabilities taken on by companies that corrupt their balance sheet.
Psychic income: The satisfaction derived from your job – usually a substitute for money.
Spear carrier: Second-tier representative top managers send to the frontline to save themselves.
Share of mind: A key factor in achieving brand recognition.
Low-hanging fruit: Go for the easiest pickings first.
Quant: A numbers man or woman.
Synergy: A chronically overused buzzword that generally refers to cooperative interaction among groups.
Big data: Lots of interpretations, but usually refers to the explosion of digitised data created by people, machines, sensors and the like that can act as an audit trail.
Bandwidth: In its latest incarnation in the corporate sector, means the energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation.