Recruiting the Right People to Lead Innovation

Digital transformation requires senior leaders and board directors that can develop a clear digital strategy and address the talent, operational and cultural changes to elevate their business. To fill these positions, the traditional model of selecting candidates on core competences is not enough.

From direct experience as a senior management headhunter, Paola Maria Caburlotto highlights the importance of new agile leadership recruitment approaches to finding the right candidates.

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New Executives Realize Productivity Goes Beyond the Bottom Line

To be a 'TOP' performer, issues of integrity and business ethics become far more important than a job, even a CEO title. After landing a new executive-level position, it's time to think about the best strategy for getting the work done. Joining an organisation is a critical time to assess and be assessed.

Here is some useful advice:

  • Don't get trapped by past patterns. Ask great questions. Listen carefully for subtlety and act based on what is being communicated.
  • Push, but not too hard.
  • Be humble and admit what you don't know. Listen first and only decide after everyone has been heard.
  • Use positive examples and remember that language communicates everything about who you are, why you are involved and where the company is going.
  • Maintain a tight grip on your personal values. The board or the CEO hired you to lead, and you may not know all that you need to know about the operation. Trust your sense of fairness, right from wrong, and caring for others.

Each new career opportunity is a chance to build on your reputation with a new set of people. Take the time to eliminate what is unnecessary and focus on what is necessary. Ask the question "Why is this done and why this way?"

What do we mean by "TOP"? Human capital expert John O. Burdett defines it as a "Tested Outstanding Performer." Consequently, all potential candidates should be considered for the arc of their career: where have they been, what impact have they had, are they leaving a legacy or were they simply an empty suit.

TOP candidates understand career trajectory; one failure is not a tragedy but it is better to avoid the situation whenever possible. Making good, clear decisive decisions about your fit with an organisation, personal candor and willingness to take risks. An individual is making a clear statement about their fitness to lead and make the right business decisions for their company.

Without question, there are times when a TOP leader must put their position on the line. Issues of integrity and business ethics are far more important than a job, even a CEO job, and it's in these instances when TOP leaders are tested. Senior candidates in transition have been able to tell this story with confidence.

Leaders must think about their stories. Their stories should demonstrate their strengths and minimise or mitigate their perceived weaknesses. Stories must be interesting, honest and pointed. Telling your story makes you human and helps build connections.

Hiring managers are looking for fit and the greatest performance. Everyone recognises that the most promising leaders are typically in roles that offer the greatest opportunities for success, but that doesn't mean that the most promising end up with the most success.

Delivering success for employers and their customers also requires politeness, friendliness, courtesy and a positive or enthusiastic mindset. Finding all of these traits in significant amounts is rare. Finding leaders who can also focus on the goal, get others to deliver their best work and build a collaborative environment is the definition of TOP.

So how does a leader avoid distractions, play nice with others, accomplish objectives and promote their success, while staying friendly, approachable and forever positive? The best leaders:

  • Organise their time. They waste little time and focus on the urgent and important tasks first. They inspire others by the pace of their accomplishments.
  • Take the time to listen carefully to others and live up to their commitments.
  • Make affirmative and clear decisions. They understand that 70 percent is usually enough for a good decision.
  • Are honest with themselves about what works for them and what challenges their skillset.
  • Work hard, smart and take care of their families.
  • Aggressively take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.
  • Commit to sound plans. Understand progress takes time and not everything can happen at the same time.

Original article by Chris Swan.

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Creating An Environment For Innovation

Charles Darwin is long remembered for informing us, based on years of study as a naturalist and biologist, that it is not the strongest of the species that survives, but rather, the one most adaptable to change.

At least partly for this reason, business owners and global executive leaders rather predictably call for significant innovation when crafting their annual business growth plans.

Be this innovation grounded in expected technological advances, market research, organisational restructuring or hefty financial investment, the linkage between better results and doing something new or perhaps even bold has never been stronger.

There are, after all, a great many examples of people and enterprises taking small ideas and changing the world, along the way enriching themselves and their shareholders. That's the kind of result the Chief Executive Officer wants to realise, and no doubt, you and your teams as well.

And there are likewise many business tales about the cost of standing still, of watching customers and markets change around them, and ultimately, realising it's simply too late to save the company.

So, if your company's greatest potential for innovation hasn't yet been realised, what's been holding it back?

That is a serious question worth asking and worth exploring until one can gain some answers particularly if you and your team have been tasked with ideating the next big thing for your enterprise.

For in order to innovate, one must operate in an environment where such exploration and risk is encouraged and rewarded. Further, one must find the time and resources to commit intense study and focus to just one pursuit at a time when the pressure to multitask and deliver results on multiple projects remains.

If one were to ask Darwin, today, about what to expect on the road to a true breakthrough, it may well be that setting up the dynamics and environment for innovation must indeed come before the great success. That is, there may be bureaucracy, internal politics and/or stubborn managers stuck in their old ways standing in the way of agility and change.

Darwin himself is also credited with this quote: To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact! Especially true in these times.

The implication for today's global executive is that one must study whether the organisation has the ingredients, the environment, the culture and also the true resolve to innovate. Much like a scientist studying the natural world, one must assess whether the pre-conditions for life, or, in this case, for breakthrough discoveries that can revolutionise or accelerate the business are present or not.

By carefully considering the opportunities as well as the obstacles to innovation, one should be able to see the potential for great success more clearly. This improved vision could translate into a defined set of actions required to nurture experimentation.

If your mandate is to innovate, or to drive innovation, you would be well served to understand whether you have the people and the will to fight through organisational barriers. Otherwise, you might only realise that despite the rhetoric about change, your company only wants to keep spinning its old wheels.

As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

The 7 Questions Every CEO Should Ask About Culture (PDF)

For a great organisation, culture isn't an abstract or vague concept … it's real … it speaks to people. It's not a competitive advantage … it's a competitive imperative.

To survive is to adapt. "Are you managing your culture?" If any of the seven questions that follow receives a negative response, the answer is, almost certainly, "not so much."

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Tomorrow's Leadership Will Be Different (PDF)

When the environment changes dramatically, it changes for everyone. If you don't adapt, extinction is inevitable. Yesterday's success may well sow the seeds of tomorrow's demise. And agility really is a make-or-break issue.

Other than know-how in technology, which is a given, leadership competencies differ depending upon the role. That understood, five leadership competencies are emerging as having future primacy.

John Burdett is a best-selling author on leadership and organisation culture, and is Leadership advisor to TRANSEARCH International. In this download (PDF) John explains in detail what leaders need to know now to embrace mastery in each of these competencies.

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The world continues to change... has the way you interview kept pace?

Change has, of course, been with us forever. The current rate of change, however, is new. This shift is so profound that it challenges the very essence of what it means to be a leader. From a recruitment perspective it also means revisiting the multi-headed hydra known as "FIT". Darren Raycroft explains.

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What is the ROI on a Graduate Degree?

When it comes to pursuing an advanced degree, most professionals wonder 'Will the output of time and energy be worth it?' It’s a big commitment, especially for established professionals who usually have plenty to balance already. Inviting more work can seem daunting. Ultimately, the value of any rigorous endeavour rests in the mind of the person pursuing it.

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