What Really Matters When Hiring a Leader?

05/29/2014 02.45 EDT

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This post originally ran on Modern Distribution Management.  To view it, click here.   Ask anyone who runs an enterprise of any size what he or she looks for when hiring a new leader and you will get plenty of different perspectives, insights, opinions and theories.   You may also hear the opinion that critical executive competencies differ widely from industry to industry.  On the surface, it makes sense.  It seems logical that the critical skills needed to successfully lead a $200 million private distribution company in the Midwest are different that those needed to be successful in a multi-billion-dollar financial services company in London.   Turns out that might not be true.   Our firm recently participated in a global survey that asked executives the world over what they considered the most desirable attributes for a senior executive in their organization.  We heard from 1,270 business leaders around the globe.  What we found surprised us.   First of all, there were very few differences in responses from different industry sectors.  Maybe more surprisingly, there was almost no correlation between desired attributes and the part of the world in which the respondent worked.   It turns out that by a margin of more than 2:1, the ability to motivate and inspire people is considered the single most important attribute for a senior executive.   After motivational ability, the senior executive traits most valued by organizations were: strong ability to manage change, ability to identify and develop talent, and innovative...