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Nicky ClarkeMay 24 20236 min read

6 C-Suite Challenges - And How To Solve Them

In the dynamic and fast-paced world of business, decision-making at the highest level falls into the hands of the C-Suite executives. They are responsible for setting the strategic direction of the company and ensuring its long-term success. However, a recurring issue in many organizations is the tendency of the C-Suite to believe that everything is running smoothly, only to be blindsided by a crisis that could have been avoided.

This blog will explore why the C-suite tends to overlook warning signs until it's too late, and what they can do to prevent future disasters.

Executive Sponsor Engagement is the Top Driver of Effective Strategy Delivery

According to the 2018 Pulse of the Profession® survey, the top driver of projects meeting their original business goals is an actively engaged executive champion or sponsor.

“More than one in three organizations report not having strong alignment of initiatives and projects that directly deliver against strategy. This indicates the need for C-Suite executives to better recognize the full potential of project management to execute strategy, and to ensure they are leveraging the right programs to directly deliver against strategy.”

C-Suite executives are often managing numerous responsibilities, from overseeing operations to attending board meetings. This can leave limited time to focus on potential issues that haven't yet become critical. 

1. Limited Visibility & Clarity

One key reason why the C-Suite often perceives everything as "okay" until it's too late is the limited visibility and clarity they have into the day-to-day operations of the company. As leaders, they rely on reports, metrics, and information provided to them by middle managers or department heads. This information might be skewed or filtered, leading to a distorted view of the actual reality, or just complex and unclear, leading to confusion. When critical issues arise, they may go unnoticed until they have cascaded into significant problems.

  • How are visualizing your business and its various layers to make informed decisions?
  • What measures are in place to maintain the reliability and integrity of your data?
  • How are you facilitating faster data driven decision making?

There's so much data and it's increasing daily, and it's valuable. However a combination of legacy systems and departmental data silos can create significant data inconsistencies, which in turn makes accurate business reporting and planning extremely difficult. As many leaders now seek to leverage their data to drive growth for their business, access to clean, reliable and organized data is critical to facilitate faster data driven decision making.

In order to successfully become data driven, organizations need a data strategy in place which is purpose-built to meet their requirements. By aggregating business data, and encouraging the sharing of insights across teams, leaders have the opportunity to achieve data clarity and ensure data used to inform key business decisions is trustworthy.

2. Overemphasis on Metrics

In many organizations, metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are used as the primary means of measuring success. While metrics are essential for tracking progress, relying solely on them can create a false sense of security. The C-Suite may focus on meeting predetermined metrics without delving deeper into the underlying factors that influence those metrics. This tunnel vision prevents them from recognizing potential warning signs until the impact is already evident.

  • How are you visualizing and analyzing the relationships between organizational goals, technologies, products, programs, and risks?
  • How are you measuring your progress towards organizational goals?

Define and Track Success Metrics

According to the 2018 Pulse of the Profession® survey, the top driver of projects meeting their original business goals is an actively engaged executive champion or sponsor. (1)

Defining success measures upfront helps ensure projects stay on track, and meet budgets and goals. Controlling scope in today’s increasingly connected environment also requires effective stakeholder and change management, irrespective of the delivery approach. 

3. Complacency and Groupthink

Success breeds complacency, and the C-Suite is not immune to this phenomenon. When a company is doing well, there is a tendency to maintain the status quo and resist change. This complacency can lead to a false sense of security, with executives assuming that the current strategies and practices will continue to yield positive results indefinitely. This approach can be risky because it can prevent executives from adapting to changing market conditions or new technologies. 

Additionally, groupthink can set in, where dissenting opinions are suppressed, and critical analysis is stifled. This lack of diverse perspectives can blind the C-Suite to potential risks and challenges.

Leverage Disruption – Don’t Just React to It – Get Agile  

In a world with an accelerated pace of innovation, disruption is the new normal. So, it’s not surprising that 83% of project managers report digital transformation has either moderately or dramatically impacted their work over the past five years. What’s key to success in today’s business environment is leveraging an agile approach with project management and delivering against strategy through ongoing evaluation of shifting market dynamics, new technologies and innovation. 

4. Short Term Thinking 

Some C-suite executives may be focused solely on short-term results, rather than long-term sustainability. They may prioritize immediate profits over the health of the organization, and this mindset can lead to decisions that ultimately harm the company in the long run. Additionally, the pressure to meet financial targets can cause these leaders to overlook potential risks and warning signs that could affect the company's bottom line.

This approach can be dangerous because it can result in a lack of investment in critical areas, such as research and development, that are essential for the long-term health of the business. A CEO who is focused on short-term profits may not invest in new technology that could help them remain competitive in the long run.

Optimize Investment in Strategy Implementation 

Organizations often prioritize investment in developing strategy over proper execution. There appears to be a big disconnect between executive leaders and project managers on strategy implementation funding. While 84% of executive leaders believe they are effectively prioritizing and funding the right initiatives and projects, only 55% of Project Management Office (PMO) leaders agree. This suggests that organizations might not be leveraging the optimum focus and investment to deliver against strategy.  

5. Lack of Effective Communication

Effective communication is crucial for the C-Suite, who may be isolated from the daily operations of the organization, to stay informed about the realities on the ground. However, in hierarchical organizations, information may be filtered or diluted as it moves up the chain of command. Subordinates might hesitate to share bad news or raise concerns for fear of repercussions. Without open and honest communication channels, the C-Suite may remain unaware of brewing problems until they reach a critical point and this can lead to a skewed perception of the company's overall health.

  • In what ways are you fostering collaboration and communication within and across teams?

6. High Levels of Confidence

One of the main reasons C-Suite executives typically think everything is okay is because of their high levels of confidence. They are experienced leaders who have faced various challenges and emerged victorious. This high level of confidence can make them believe that they have everything under control, and they don't need to worry about potential threats or problems. This can lead to a reluctance to acknowledge problems or make necessary changes, which can ultimately see the company spiral downward.


The consequences of the C-Suite's belief that everything is fine until it's too late can be severe. It can result in missed opportunities, financial losses, damaged reputation, and even organizational failure. Delayed action can make it more challenging to implement effective solutions and recover from setbacks. Ultimately, this pattern can erode trust between leadership and employees, leading to decreased morale and engagement.

Solutions for Misaligned C-Suite

To avoid the "everything is okay until it's too late" syndrome, executives must actively seek diverse perspectives, encourage open communication, regularly reassess their strategies, focus on the long-term health of the organization, and stay attuned to the ever-changing business landscape.

By fostering a culture of transparency, adaptability, and continuous improvement, the C-Suite can ensure they are well-informed and prepared to navigate challenges proactively, rather than reacting when it's already too late.