Risk reduced through executive search
Using an executive search specialist for your C-suite appointments means that the risk to the Board or CEO in making an unsuccessful, or very ordinary executive appointment, is reduced. Through an executive search process, the potential candidates offered to you for consideration have been met, and broader information about them gathered and shared with you on a ‘highly confidential’ basis. Discussion around the ‘long list’ candidates also helps refine the views of Board members who may have thought they were in agreement about the sort of person to be appointed, but find themselves at odds when debating the merits of a range of possible candidates. Contrast that process with the situation where an organisation receives CVs directly. A person with an impressive CV is amongst several interviewed; the preferred candidate’s referees are contacted and are supportive; the person is appointed. Sometimes, within a short time, it becomes obvious that the referees failed to mention certain unattractive behavioural traits, or excellent past performance fails to be delivered. When an executive search consultant is advising the Board, the reputation of the candidate should have been fully explored and guaranteed.
Risk of Board/ inexperience in making recruiting C-suite executives
As Boards rarely have to recruit a CEO, it is quite common that amongst the Board members, there will be no one who has participated in such a process previously. Yet the person who is appointed to lead your organisation, or a section of it, is perhaps the most important decision a Board member will make while serving as a Director on that particular Board. Many organisations increasingly feel comfortable posting an advertisement on an online recruitment site. However, these same organisations are shirking a critical part of their role in securing quality staff, if they only consider applications from people actively seeking a role. At the very least, part of managing that risk is to raise for Board discussion the benefits to the organisation of undertaking an executive search only, or n executive search conducted in addition to advertised recruitment.
Objective advice based on thorough research and multiple interactions
An executive search specialist is undertaking recruitment assignments on a regular basis, so s/he has expertise that the Board/CEO mostly probably lacks. Moreover, the executive search specialist has time to dedicate to the task and should be thorough in ensuring your organisation’s needs are met. (The details of the executive’s responsibilities will be specified by you at a meeting with the consultant). In other words, the executive search specialist is at ‘arm’s length’ from the Board/CEO so can be objective. Through engaging with industry experts and her broad network, s/he can build a profile of candidates based on many interactions, rather than the Board/CEO relying solely on what an applicant might have to say about themselves. As a direct outcome of the intensive research, by the time the Selection Committee reviews a ‘long list’ of candidates, many other people will have been approached, considered, and however worthy, deemed ‘not an exact fit'” for your organisation.
Including people who were not looking to move!
People want to change roles for a variety of reasons. If you only consider people who are actively looking for the next role, then you will have missed considering successful people who are happy in their current roles, but who may be persuaded to consider a role with your organisation. Various suitable potential candidates may not see your advertisement, or if they do, give it little consideration. Contrast this situation with what happens when some one is contacted by an executive search specialist. If potential applicants agree to look at the position description, the executive search specialist will have an opportunity to talk about the opportunities and challenges of your role. At the same time, the executive search consultant learns more about the potential applicant’s interests and expertise. As the executive search specialist talks to ‘sources’ ( experts) who may be in a position to recommend people for the role, incidental intelligence about certain individuals is gathered at the same time. Not only that, the names of people who may be working overseas, or in areas less obviously aligned to your organisation, may be suggested, who then can be approached and considered as part of the overall process, hence expanding the pool of possible appointees considerably.
Ensure your risk register highlights the risk of seeking C-Suite appointees on a narrow basis. Considering the benefits to your organisation of possibly selecting executive search will mitigate that risk, and if chosen, will provide an approach that is tailored solely for your organisation.