How to Stack the Deck for Success

02/10/2014 02.57 EDT

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I recently read a very interesting piece by Jean Martin, a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review: For Senior Leaders, Fit Matters More than Skill.  Jean writes about the need to evaluate an executive’s “network fit” when considering him or her for hire.  By “network fit,” she means “how well the potential hire will fit with the way his or her new colleagues work.”  This is distinctly different from “cultural fit,” which predicts how well the executive will align with the corporate culture more broadly.   Jean points out that executives who fail often do so because of a problem with “network fit.”  She goes on to examine whether internal recruiters are better able to sense network fit when compared to external search partners.  I think it’s fair to say that she doesn’t think either party does a particularly good job on this critical aspect of evaluating external executives for key leadership positions.   The article got me thinking – always dangerous – so I thought I would share a couple of reactions.   First – the obvious.  You can’t evaluate network fit if you haven’t met the network!  For all of our searches, we try to meet as many stakeholders as possible when we begin the search.  It takes time to do this, and sometimes clients push back, wondering why it matters.  We generally are pretty insistent about this step in the process.  We have always known how important chemistry is with the team; if you...

Will your Search Process Pass the Fitness Test?

09/09/2011 02.28 EDT

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When we begin a new search on a client’s behalf, we meet with the hiring manager and leadership team to fully understand the position, its scope and responsibilities, and its place in the organization. Clients speak at length about the requirements of the role and the consequent qualifications they are looking for in candidates. They outline desired work experience, educational credentials, industry sector experience, etc. They often have a very specific set of requirements related to candidate qualifications – most of which can be ascertained by reviewing candidate resumes and interviewing them.   In a prior life, I worked with clients who were dismissing executives, sometimes because they were not successful in their roles. When I would ask clients why the executive failed, they seldom said things like “Well, she only had seven years of management experience instead of ten years” or “He went to a state school and not an Ivy League university.”   Instead, I heard things like “He always had to be the smartest person in the room” or “She couldn’t work collaboratively across departments” or “He just wasn’t seen as a credible, genuine leader.”   So, the “derailers,” if you will, had little to do with concrete work experience and credentials. Instead, they were tied to style, emotional intelligence and those most elusive of concepts – cultural fit and chemistry.   When recruiting a new executive to a company, the assessment of their cultural fit is arguably the most difficult part of the...