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This has come up a number of times and I semi-agree with you. It's definitely true that C-level positions do take a special kind of problem solving to navigate with a high emphasis on time management skills that other people (even upper management) can usually delegate up... That said, the only thing restricting new entrants into that market is the resistance of that market. The skills it takes to be a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company are certainly beyond me currently, but it's a skill I could train up to if I tried - especially if I had chosen to do so earlier in life. And these positions do come with a high amount of responsibility, buuut... they don't produce value for the company at all in line with their salaries and they're certainly not irreplaceable.

I don't hate management, I've worked for some great middle managers that have made my life easy - and for some terrible ones that constantly over-promised and pushed the weight down on us in the trenches. For upper management I've worked for three main veins of persons, the ones that micromanage and attempt to constantly invest themselves in every problem - leading to an inability to make good high level decisions... the sort that are removed from business by such an extent that they are unable to reason about direction decisions and fail to support a company's natural growth.. and those that are approachable but limited, who will voluntarily back out of any low level decision discussion but coordinate what decisions are being discussed and what those decisions mean for other portions of the company.

So mainly I'm rejecting your assumption that the pool is limited to begin with - people do come from famous families and waltz into the field with no prior experience, and those who try to work their way up tend to be stifled due to their lack of experience.




I'm not sure I agree with your first paragraph. I mean no disrespect to you or your abilities, but being a C-level executive, especially in a large corporation, isn't something that someone can just "train up to". These types of positions really do require a specific personality, specific desires, often a specific ethic (work ethic and otherwise), specific connections, and more. These are the things, along with the fact that due to organizational hierarchy, there are naturally less CEOs in the world than there are entry level workers, that limit the pool.

I'm certainly not saying that all C-levels possess these necessary traits in a positive way, and there are definitely some C-levels that only got where they are because of nepotism or luck, but I also disagree that there is a significant 'stifling' of newcomers. Nearly every company I have worked at has had a specific "track" for its employees to pursue management (including C level) positions, but my experience is that most people just aren't cut out for it (either because they self-selected that they didn't want/enjoy it, or because they didn't have the necessary personality for it). More specific to the tech industry, I've often seen/heard of Silicon Valley companies having separate "Individual Contributor" versus "Management" tracks. Many engineers self-select the IC track because they don't enjoy management aspects.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing, either. Not everyone is destined to be a CEO, nor should that be everyone's goal, and there's definitely nothing wrong with not being a possessor of the negative-in-many-aspects cutthroat ethics that being a CEO often requires. It's not all too dissimilar to how not everyone is destined to be a programmer, and you can't take just anyone off the street, hand them a programming textbook, and turn them into Linus Torvalds, nor should you.


> I mean no disrespect to you or your abilities, but being a C-level executive, especially in a large corporation, isn't something that someone can just "train up to".

My hunch is that this is no more true of C-levels than it is of any other profession where some natural aptitude (eg. above average intelligence) is required. In other words, I think the "pool" of C-levels is small almost solely because of organisational hierarchy; for every C-level there are many more people with the required natural aptitude who are not C-levels. Of course, for a sufficiently narrow domain, the intersection of people with the required natural aptitude and people with the required years of domain experience may become very small.

In that sense, I think being a C-level is something that many people can just "train up to," if given the right opportunities. I'm not sure if there is any empirical evidence that could tell us who's right.


You could look at experience vs performance.

I've seen enough "emergency temporary promotions" succeed in their job that I tend to agree with you and not with the self-serving "I am special" arguments you hear from people in these circles.




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