Avoiding C-Suite Mistakes: Introduction

This is the first installment of the “C-Suite Mistakes” series. Read the other parts here.

C-Suite, or C-Level, is a widely used slang term to refer to a corporation’s most important senior executives. The name comes from the titles of top senior executives, which tend to start with the letter C: Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Chief Information Officer (CIO), for example.

In our work with small and emerging managed group practices, we commonly observe dentist-entrepreneurs making painful and expensive mistakes while formulating, recruiting, and managing their C-Suites. My observations are based on my experience working at the C-Suite level from 1994 to 2003 in a number of industries: insurance, biotechnical, hospitals, and a sprinkling of Fortune 500s – Merck, GE Capital, and Boeing.

Generating a “team culture” in the C-Suite is rarely the first priority. C-Suite hires are often selected competencies in their respective areas of expertise — in addition to their background and experience — without consideration of what kind of team member they will make. This is a cardinal mistake. Encouraging teamwork and collaboration should be a top priority for C-Suite execs, though this important factor is rarely the focus when recruiting senior executives.

Look for follow-ups in our series on The C-Suite in the coming weeks:


Unconscious to The Signal

Lack of Emotional Intelligence

Too Little, Too Late


The “Oh Shit” Moment

The Burning Platform

Desperation Leads to Exasperation



They Can’t Wait to Get Going

Taking Off in the Wrong Direction


First Team First

Teams Win Championships

Superstars Kill Team


Lack of Context, Clarity, and Accountability

Driving in the Fog

Off on Their Own


CEO Won’t Let Go

Executive to Administrative Support

Killing People Off


Politics Galore

The Win-Lose Game

The Good People Leave


The most successful DSOs always keep their C-Suite team playing at championship levels. Oh, they’ve made plenty of costly mistakes on their way to getting it right. You can’t get the C-Suite to championship levels without some painful losses — it is unavoidable.  

Your chances for C-Suite success will improve by studying the concepts we’ll tackle in this series.

— Marc