Redefining Leadership in Consumer Markets

A recent report by the IIC Partners Consumer Markets Practice Group delves into the characteristics that define exceptional Board Directors and C-suite leaders, underscoring the unique blend of skills, competencies, and experiences necessary to steer organizations toward sustainable success.

The 10 most important takeaways are summarized below:

  1. Defining Exceptional Board Directors: Exceptional Board Directors in consumer markets have very specific skill sets that match the maturity, size, and trajectory of the organization. One common denominator is experience and skills in new technologies.
  2. Evolving C-Suite Roles for Market Agility: The creation of new C-suite roles such as Chief Revenue Officer and Chief Brand Officer reflects a strategic shift towards more specialized, market-responsive leadership structures.
  3. Prioritizing Technology and Sustainability Leadership: There’s a growing emphasis on roles like Chief Digital Transformation Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer, indicating a prioritization of digital innovation and sustainable practices in consumer markets.
  4. Internal Promotion vs. External Talent Acquisition: While promoting internal leaders to the C-suite has benefits, incorporating external talent is crucial for introducing fresh ideas and perspectives, essential for long-term organizational growth.
  5. Shortened Tenure and Rapid Strategy Cycles: The trend of shorter tenures in senior management roles necessitates a more dynamic approach to leadership, with a focus on quickly adapting strategies to market changes.
  6. Inclusive Leadership Over Individual Superstars: Successful companies are shifting focus from recruiting ‘superstar’ executives to nurturing inclusive leaders who value team dynamics and foster a collaborative culture.
  7. Revolutionizing Talent Management by Prioritizing DEI: The advancement of DEI programs has led to a greater emphasis on proactively seeking diverse candidates through innovative market mapping and ensuring success through strategic onboarding processes that tackle key culture gaps.
  8. The New CMO and CHRO: The CMO role has evolved significantly, now requiring data analytics, AI, and machine learning skills. The CHRO role has expanded dramatically and has been elevated as a key strategic partner in corporate decision-making.
  9. Globally Distributed Teams Supported by Flexible Working: The shift towards remote work and globally distributed teams allows companies to tap into wider talent pools, leading to more diverse, innovative, and cost-effective operations. Adaptations in management styles and corporate culture are required to maintain productivity and collaboration.
  10. Meeting Consumer Expectations on Sustainability: Consumer attitudes concerning environmental and social governance (ESG) are reshaping how companies approach product development and marketing. Consumers are being brought into the product design stages earlier and with greater input on decisions. Sustainability now must be a core value, backed by actions and clear communication of impact.

In the management and management practices of the consumer market, there is a need for versatile changes and adaptation, and an important role is also played by technological skill and a strong commitment to diversity and sustainable development. With these, organizations are guided towards sustainable success.


JFP Executive Search Senior Partner Jouko Pitkänen is the Head of ICC Partners Consumer Markets Industry Group. Read the full article including Jouko’s foreword here.