Searching For The Agile And Proven Leader

A special breed of leader

Global corporations are looking for a special breed of leader. Strategic priorities are framing ever more specialised requirements for new executive hires and the selective upgrading of existing management roles. Superior executive talent is increasingly seen as an important lever to calibrate investment in new markets, new products and new innovations.

With existing management teams stretched to capacity, the time has come to reinvest in high performers and to attract the kind of proven leaders who can effectively lead and inspire others while shouldering the pressure of increased performance expectations. Most companies are unwilling to place large bets on untested managers. Many are already searching for richly experienced leaders with a track record of making tough decisions that improve the bottom line.

Global business leaders in today's economic environment generally agree that, at least for the foreseeable future, business decisions will need to be made faster, teams will need to collaborate more effectively than ever, and data needs to inform decisions, not limit them. Today's search for business results is a search for both experience and agility.

Adjust, adapt and change course as and when necessary

Today's business mantra suggests that one thing is certain: leaders will be faced with more volatility, uncertainty, change, and ambiguities than they have faced before. This explains why there is such a large premium on the right mix of leadership experience and specialised know-how. Yet it is agility - the capacity to move quickly and easily through a potential minefield of business challenges - that is mounting in importance when it comes to finding and attracting business leaders who can make an immediate, as well as lasting impact.

The capacity to be open-minded enough to consider the full implications of their decisions and their interactions with colleagues, subordinates and customers is a critical leadership trait. Mental agility requires top leaders to abandon cognitive rigidity and absorb the full panoply of solutions to problems, especially those they have not encountered before.

While businesses around the world charge toward improved performance and results, they must demonstrate a willingness to test prospective new hires' true agility. After all, as the world we've known for so long changes so quickly around us, the very best executives will show they have what it takes to adjust, adapt and change course as and when necessary - and know when to stick to their convictions.


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.

Ability To 'Read Between The Lines' Becoming A Critical Leadership Skill

One of the little things that may make all the difference in terms of sorting the winners from the losers in today's global business climate is a leaders' ability to 'read between the lines'.

That is, can the individual leader look at a checklist and see what's not written on paper? Can they sort through a job candidate's resume and interview to determine what's not being said? And can the boss sort through mounds of data, risk analyses and competitive reports to see what's missing?

Seeing what's already apparent to even the casual observer is easy. But thinking about a business challenge from a new frame of mind and seeing the influences on markets, consumers and organisations that others don't is becoming a vital skill for senior management.

Often, as many business leaders will attest, the most interesting thing that comes from an important business meeting is what's not said. So, too, today's culture of information overload may distract leaders from what's essential.

That's why a demonstrated ability to see clearly through the haze of economic uncertainty and beyond the typical data dump that precedes big decisions is a critical competency of senior leadership.

Understanding all the influences on a business decision is key, but seeing the potential of that same decision requires an unprecedented level of business savvy about what's not being said, what's not immediately apparent, and the potential customers and partners a company doesn't already know.

In the world of TMI (too much information), the best leaders appreciate that too little information about the unknown, the uncertain, what's really possible and how to get there can stifle innovation and fail to connect the enterprise to what it can achieve.


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 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". For example, in discussions with CEO's and Boards, it is commonplace to hear "comfort with risk," "learning agility" and "global reach" as critical leadership competencies.

The need for robust dialogue around the leadership competencies required for turbulent times is undeniable. Often absent from this discussion … how to assess these competencies during the interview. Now more than ever, the interview is a make or break issue.

Technique

Although engaging the candidate is an important facet of the interview, make sure to:

  • Approach the interview as if it were a critical business meeting, e.g., develop a game plan prior to the interview.
  • Remember, "success" draws verifiable evidence of past success.
  • Employ a consistent approach when dealing with multiple candidates.
  • Make the candidate feel comfortable and be transparent about your organisation and the mandate at hand (this is ultimately in both parties best interest).
  • Write-up the interview.

Process

Within a multi-stakeholder environment several key questions emerge:

  • Have the appropriate stakeholders been engaged in the process to solicit their insights on the ideal candidate profile?
  • Does everyone interviewing the candidate know their specific role and respective focus/probe areas?
  • Is there clear alignment amongst all stakeholders as to what the role-specific leadership competencies are?
  • Does each interview add value?

Shortcomings in either technique or process lead to poor decisions when evaluating "FIT". They become even more concerning when set against the new lexicon of leadership. Anyone who interviews as part of their role should ask "What am I and my organisation going to do to improve the way we interview?" Your capability to attract and assess top talent will continue to be critical to both your personal and your organisation's success. Indeed, it just might be dependent on it.

Insights from "The world continues to change … has the way you interview kept pace?" by Darren Raycroft.


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.

What Value Creation Should You Expect From an Executive Search Provider?

Taking talent acquisition to the next level

In a world marked by speed of change, doing what we have always done, better (value added) ... is not enough. The right search partner will deliver the ideas, capability and experience to help you take talent acquisition to the next level.

Without access to best practice, forging new ways to think becomes an uphill battle. Without new questions learning is limited. Where successful role models are missing, our extraordinary ability to copy what works cannot kick in. And when thought leadership is little more than "a consulting label", creating tomorrow today becomes a bridge too far. There is clearly a good deal to gain, therefore, from working with best-in-class, external resources.

7 critical areas of distinct value

At a minimum, in addition to sector expertise and international capability, the search provider must deliver distinct value in seven critical areas:

  1. Bring creativity and flair when it comes to attracting top talent.
  2. Help the client "measure" the culture they have today (roots) and the culture the organisation needs moving forward (wings).
  3. Leading-edge tools to build a robust, balanced scorecard for the position.
  4. Develop role-specific competencies for the role in question.
  5. Provide a meaningful process to determine team fit. As with culture, this implies measurement.
  6. Coach inexperienced line managers in how to conduct the interview.
  7. Bring support and appropriate tools to the integration process, and that means a good deal more than the perfunctory call to see if the newly hired candidate is doing okay.

The organisation's story underscores a successful hiring value proposition. Central to that story are the hiring organisation's values. Unfortunately, although the majority of organisations claim to have "organisation values," in many instances, they amount to little more than window dressing. To "win" top talent over even a great story may not be enough. A best-in-class search professional draws out why high performers stay and leverages that insight to inspire the candidate who is happy where they are.

The approach to measuring culture needs to reflect the context. By way of example, an organisation confronting transformational change faces a very different challenge to that of a successful business seeking to better manage the culture they have. It is also important - and especially so in talent acquisition - that the approach describes the cultural journey in business terms.

You can't manage what you don't measure. Talent acquisition devoid of a robust measure of the culture the organisation needs to compete tomorrow … amounts to little more than the hiring executive's "best guess." For a unique and compelling measure of organisation culture see - The A-Z Of Organization Culture. John O. Burdett (2017).

Developing role-specific competencies implies a library of relevant and up-to-date leadership competencies. It also means a proven leadership model that ensures that the competencies identified deliver "leadership balance." For a measure of leadership balance, see John O. Burdett, Attract, Select, Develop & Retain TALENT (2013). Balance denotes fit in four critical leadership areas:

  1. Direction,
  2. Discipline of Delivery,
  3. Development of people, and
  4. Day-to-day Dialogue.

This simple leadership template is the outcome of asking 15,000 leaders in 40 countries, "What do you NEED from a leader?" It is framed in The Orxestra® Methodology: the head (direction); the hand (delivery); the heart (development of people); and the spirit (day-to-day dialogue).

The best candidate vs. the right candidate

Talent acquisition cannot thrive in a vacuum. It's an integral part of the overall talent management system. If you hire great people and coaching is a hard-to-find skill, assume a higher attrition rate than might be expected. If "succession" is poorly thought through expect to go outside for talent more often than is good for the organisation's health. And if the leadership development agenda is found wanting, know that over-hiring for virtually every position will be a given.

The implications are profound. When the seven dimensions of distinct value (offered by the executive search provider) are either missing or short-changed and where the search is delivered as a tactical "replacement" - not as strategic and integral to the client's overall talent management system - the inevitable, default outcome is to hire the best and not the right candidate.

Uncovering the best candidate is, essentially, a beauty contest. It's the corporate version of the popular NBC talent show America's Got Talent. If they look and sound good, give them a ticket to Vegas. On the other hand, finding the right candidate is a matchless investment in building tomorrow's leadership bench strength … today.

Building a BRAND mindset

For many service providers business development is perceived as a kind of wrestling match … where the next sale, overcoming objections and asking for the order become the name of the game.

Delivering all of the elements of fit, landing the right candidate is predicated on a supplier/client relationship that goes beyond "winning the sale." It speaks of a trust-based partnership where long-term success is based on the search provider understanding the client's emerging business need as well as the client does. It defines a way to work where making the client's business better always takes precedence. It builds on a mindset where BRAND means Better Results And No Disappointment.

Successful business development ultimately draws on one simple question, "What do we have to do to ensure that the client views us not as a supplier but as truly part of their team?

Finding world-class talent requires a partnership with a trusted outside advisor. Visit TRANSEARCH International to discover our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and development.

Insights from "Talent Acquisition - The Battle For Tomorrow".


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.