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Recruiting Leaders

Strong leadership is the foundation of business success and without it, many once profitable companies have floundered and even failed. Whether it be failure to match culture, having the wrong experience for the role or choosing a leader that is too junior (or too senior), the wrong appointment can be extremely costly to a business. How then, do you recruit leaders?

When embarking on the recruitment of a strong leadership team, there are a multitude of different considerations to take into account. Not least of all though, it is critical to properly identify what type of person would be most appropriate for the position. We have written previously on the best way to analyse positions (Job Analysis and Position Descriptions) and those basics still apply. However, when recruiting leaders, it is also important to take into account “higher level” considerations. These can include strategic and financial goals, as well as overall staff retention and turnover expectations.

After the role requirements have been identified, the next stage is appropriate selection techniques. When selecting potential candidates, it is important to base the selection criteria on performance against the role requirements. Ideally, you are looking for candidates to exhibit the following attributes on their CV:

  • Relevant experience in your field or a demonstrated understanding of your industry;
  • The right amount of experience to match the needs of your business;
  • Proven leadership experience, ideally with a list of previous achievements; and
  • Transferable skills that you can utilise to grow your business further.

It is not always a given that high performers will have great resumes, so as much as reasonably possible, conduct “screening calls” on candidates who are in the “maybe” pile, rather than discarding them out of hand. 

The next stage of course, is interviewing the shortlist of candidates. Leadership roles can make or break organisations, so it is important to remain formal at this stage of the process. Although coffee shop meetings may be appropriate later on, the first interview should ideally be in your place of business, in an office or secluded area. This interview should aim to achieve a number of things, but most importantly, its purpose is to verify the information on the candidates resume. It should also be used to assess the relevance of their previous experience.

When assessing their performance in previous roles, use the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, and Result). In short, ask the candidate whether they have solved problems in the past, that they might face in this role and evaluate them on their performance. The other major area to explore is their cultural fit into the business. Will they “fit in” with the other team members? Will they be respected by their subordinates and superiors? Are the candidate’s values and personal goals in line with the organisations?

Recruiting reliable staff who perform well and fit into the culture of your business is hard. Recruiting leaders that do the same, is even more difficult. Seeking assistance from mentors, other businesses in your industry or perhaps consultants is wise. However, by following some selection and interviewing basics you can ensure the profitability and stability of your business by installing a strong leadership team.  

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