The C-level competency of market knowledge is about understanding the market context in which a business operates. Competence in market knowledge is usually a requirement of the leadership competencies of strategic orientation, commercial orientation and customer impact.RELATED LINKS\nHow One CIO Develops Her Market Knowledge\n\nAnticipating Customers' Needs\nAt basic levels of performance, leaders understand obvious industry trends, the company's products and its customers. Middle-level performers see emerging trends. At high levels, leaders understand relationships among the various elements of the market and see how trends could create new customers, affect dealings with competitors and cause potentially profitable changes. CEOs are better at tracking competitors and industry trends than are CFOs. Both perform better than CIOs, who are just beginning to know their markets well.How to Develop Market KnowledgeDeveloping market knowledge is both easier and harder than behavioral leadership competencies. It is easier in that performing at a basic or middle level simply requires study. To get to the strategic level of performance, however, one also needs insight, which comes from understanding the depth and breadth of the business, its market, and the levers by which these may change. Are You Ready to Exercise Market Knowledge?\nReaders wishing to improve their performance in this competency need to examine their organization's readiness, and then assess their own. Some questions to ask include: \n\nOrganizational\nDoes the organization have an articulated strategy that it follows? To what extent is the organization market-driven versus technology-driven? Is the business simple, or does it include a wide variety of products, customers and business models? Is the direction of the business coherent? \n\nIndividual\n\n\nDo you understand what drives the business and its market? \nDo you see your role as formulating direction? \nCan you see a situation from others' perspective rather than just your own? \nCan you identify patterns in people and their behavior as well as in systems or processes? \nBased on the answers to these questions, you can decide how to develop your market knowledge and use it to benefit yourself and your company. \n\n\nReynold Lewke is Egon Zehnder's North American CIO practice leader, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Steve Kelner is global knowledge leader of Egon Zehnder's talent management and management appraisal practice group, and can be reached at email@example.com.