Ferrari is one of the world’s most recognizable and powerful brands. The cars are beautiful to look at but the most important component is seldom on view. The Ferrari 12-cylinder engine – with cylinders that could fit in a teacup – was the heart of a legend which includes 16 world F1 championships and 256 race wins.
An organization’s leadership team is the Ferrari engine — not in the public eye but the core of exceptional performance. Every part of a competitive company performs in relation to the output of the leader group.
On the track or in the Board room, competition of any kind is testing. Recognising and engaging the right executive today has become one of those failure-is-not-an-option tasks that demand high levels of knowledge, experience and technology to get right. Here are six steps to guide your success in executive search.
1. Understand the stakes
You are not filling a position. You are looking for a strategic component that will integrate with the rest of your team. Human Resources Directors today focus on impacting the company’s bottom line not just swapping in skill sets and experience.
This means taking a longer term mindset. Ideally, it means finding a partner in the enterprise, not just contracting a recruiting specialist in a one-off support role. To achieve the best result, you must become partners with your retained executive search firm.
2. Understand the Executive Search process
Keep your briefing on who you want at a high level. What your executive search specialists are interested in is what it is you need to accomplish. They think like engineers: they need to know the desired end-state and then look at how they can get you there.
These preliminary discussions are critical. Help your recruiting partner to understand the organization and where your team wants to take it. This can influence the job parameters you started out with.
3. Know who you want
This is a double-barreled step. You start by defining the candidate you think you need, but then you should work through what kind of outside help you are looking for.
The best executive recruiters work to the “Retained Search” methodology and are members of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership. The AESC logo is a respected and reliable indication that you are choosing to do business with an expert and trustworthy organization that works to high, global standards. (Cornerstone International Group is a member)
Your due diligence should cover basics. Does your talent pool need to be global? Does the search firm have a track record in your business? Is this a domestic position or cross-border? If the latter, who is managing it and who is benefitting from it? What is the search firm’s track record in your niche?
4. Help the candidate to know you
It is fundamental and essential that, when you arrive at the person you want, you understand each other fully. Depending on the position, the person you engage will be your peer and will have to fit in with the leadership team.
Trust is fundamental to a company’s corporate strategy. You and your colleagues must be satisfied that this is someone you can work with, someone you feel you can trust.
Remember that while you are studying the candidate, he or she is assessing both you and the opportunity. It is important that you communicate well and create a favorable impression.
This a mission-critical procedure for you and the candidate is also making a major life choice. A bad placement can have a devastating effect on a person’s career and reputation.
5. Stay with it
It’s not over at the signing and the champagne. You are in recruit/assimilate mode for at least another six months.
For some time now, it has been known that 40% of executives fail inside the first 18 months. It’s a staggering percentage and translates into equally staggering costs of failure. What has become apparent more recently is why.
To be accepted, an incoming executive will clearly have been qualified, energetic, strategic and have appeared to be a good fit with the organization. But the weak link seems to have been a subsequent inability to understand the organization’s priorities and perhaps also its quirks that surface over time.
The standard formula onboarding doesn’t counter this. The response revolves around certified, customized coaching directed at familiarization with the new environment.
6. Next Steps
In most instances, seeking someone at the executive level will have been planned for some time. If the need does arise suddenly, all the more reason to be prepared.
A valuable exercise is to identify the information required and the steps to acquire it. The starting point is selecting that partner, a professional retained search firm, and arriving at some form of understanding.
Cornerstone International Group is such a firm. We are in 37 countries, representing critical value dealing with cross-border operations and foreign jurisdictions. We invite you to get in touch if you would like to know more.
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