Why is it so hard to find the right CEO and what you can do about it!
Large companies are able to craft robust succession plans, while middle market and smaller companies often have difficulty finding and retaining successors. CEOs impact the company’s strategy, execution and ultimately business and financial performance. Finding the right CEO is the board of directors’ most important task. From the board perspective, no one on the outside could understand completely all of the nuances of your business, culture and your company’s situation within the industry better than an insider. External candidates will always need time to adjust and require guidance and support of the board to succeed.
So just how do you find the right CEO and what resources are available to you?
First of all, in order to get what you want, you have to know what you want. What are your objectives? What is working and what is not with your current situation? What criteria are you going to measure each candidate against? How will you measure success once you hire the person?
Second, it is always a good idea to explore multiple scenarios and plan for contingencies. You may be looking for the right person for a little bit longer that you would like to. Should a member of the board of directors step in temporarily? Do you hire an interim executive? Who within the company could take on some of the responsibility?
Third, assign a board member to oversee the search, and drive for results. This person needs to make finding the right CEO their highest priority. Often it is best not assigned to the Chairman, but to another board member. This person works to define the expectations and goals for the position, works with the executive search professional to develop a position description, performs the initial interviews, and helps build consensus among the board members, and assists in creating a smooth recruiting and hiring process (which is really important to attract quality talent).
Fourth, look for qualities that are universal to high level performers. Some of the things you want to look for are:
- Track record of demonstrated Good Judgment
- Capable (experience with a similar situation / industry) and Capacity Builder
- High Energy and High Endurance
- Visionary and Strategic Leader
- Inspiring, Courageous and Compassionate
- History of Building Productive Relationships with colleagues, partners, and other stakeholders
- Embraces Change and Leads through Change
Fifth, engage an executive search firm, and work with the firm to:
- Manage and drive the process.
- Build consensus among board members.
- Remain objective about the hire – we know how chemistry can result in a poor choice, and will help you avoid making a decision on pure chemistry.
- Reach out to people outside of your network – you will find more and potentially better talent.
- Create a decision partner – someone who has worked with many companies at these decision points and who understand the pressures you are under. Someone you can trust to help you come to the right decision for you.
- Create choice. Ultimately, you want to choose between 2 or 3 very appropriate candidates, who could all do the job. The only decision becomes who is the very best for us?
- Be a negotiation partner. Often recruiters can help you build trust with the chosen candidate during the negotiation process by becoming an interested negotiator, and help keep emotions to a minimum during the tricky offer process moments.
Solid CEO’s are hard to find and the process is sometimes difficult to manage without the assistance of a professional search executive. A good search professional will keep the process moving quickly to a solution, build consensus, and minimize pure emotional decision making. In most cases, working with a professional search executive provides you higher quality candidates to choose from. A good search professional will take most of the heavy lifting out of finding and securing the right CEO.
Raynak executive search has over 17 years of working with boards and executive teams to place the right executive – we are so confident we will find and hire effective executives, that we guarantee it.