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Characteristics of a Chief Business Officer: 3 Roles to Fulfill

Posted by Scott Barron on May 13, 2016 2:25:02 PM
Scott Barron

Chief Business Officers must wear many hats as they manage their institutions. Although every role you play is important, three key roles define your success more than any others: capacity builder, cultural traveler and horizon thinker. Fulfilling these roles effectively is essential to the success of the school.

Capacity Builder

The best leaders are those that help to create other leaders. These leaders help to make your organization as strong and successful as it can be. As a capacity builder, you make it your mission to teach others how to be effective in leadership roles by setting an example, sharing your insights and helping members of your team leverage their knowledge and skills.

To be an effective capacity builder:

  • Demonstrate honor, integrity and respect in every interaction with team members.
  • Invest time and energy in the hiring process, seeking out those candidates that will benefit the institution most.
  • Always be on the lookout for ways to leverage the talents of your team members to maximize their effectiveness.
  • Share best practices with members of your team so that they can improve their own leadership skills.

Cultural Traveler

Your institution is made up of people from diverse backgrounds. As a CBO, you will interact with all of these individuals on a regular basis. To make these interactions as fruitful as possible, you need to be a "cultural traveler." A cultural traveler is someone who can build a positive relationship with people of any gender, class, race or educational background. They know how to make themselves accessible, and they are open to listening to the ideas of others.

To improve your effectiveness as a cultural traveler, take time to learn about the culture of your institution. Invest time and effort in your relationships with all key stakeholders. Listen attentively to their ideas and concerns of each individual and group so that you can understand their position, and try to act as a bridge between groups when conflicts or misunderstandings occur.

Horizon Thinker

No one can predict everything that will happen in the future. However, as a CBO, it is your responsibility to be a "horizon thinker" and do the best that you can to look ahead. To plan for the future effectively, you need to be able to recognize trends, detect patterns and determine how different events will affect the institution. For most people, this is not an inborn skill, but one that must be developed. 

To improve your effectiveness as a horizon thinker, pay attention to current events that may affect your institution, and ask yourself how they are likely to play out in the future. In addition, consider connecting with other professionals who seek to speculate about future events and pay attention to their predictions. You can also improve your ability to speculate by attending conferences outside your area of expertise and by reading materials outside of your functional area.


To learn more about these roles and becoming a more valuable asset to your school, check out our free infographic below.

CBO infographic

Topics: Consultative Business Officer

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