The Leadership Skills Companies Want

02/12/2013 03.34 EST

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In this year’s Women on Boards report, Philadelphia’s Forum of Executive Women found that while board seats at companies across the region actually dropped, the portion of board seats held by women have increased by nine percent since 2006.  Over the same time period, the number of top executives who are women jumped by 25 percent.   While the progress for female leaders across the country is slow, there is a growing business case for change.  At Salveson Stetson Group, where we place executives in senior-level roles at corporations and non-profits, a number of our clients have expressed interest in hiring more women into senior leadership positions to diversify their talent pool.   What are companies looking for when they are targeting leadership hires, specifically women?   As an executive search consultant, I hear a common “wish list” when identifying talented female leaders.  First and foremost, candidates need to have a proven track record in managing large, multi-site and global teams.  Secondly, they need to have strong talent management skills as well as possess the necessary emotional intelligence to effectively navigate in their roles.  The ability for a leader to juggle all of these responsibilities across a company is a tall order.   Many emerging female leaders continually ask for advice on ways to accelerate their development.  I have highlighted several recommendations that may facilitate being considered for future executive leadership roles:   Take on a stretch assignment.  If your boss is suggesting you move into a...

An Overlooked Professional Development Opportunity

06/26/2012 08.53 EST

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When clients engage us to conduct a search to fill a critical position in their organization, they have almost always considered internal candidates for the role. Sometimes they just don’t have the internal talent needed for the position or they are specifically seeking an “outsider” – someone who is not from their company and may not even be from their industry. Outsiders are attractive to organizations because they bring a fresh perspective and have a different take on things like corporate culture, strategy and leadership style.   So how can a company try to develop that “outsider” perspective in high potential leaders in their own company? I would like to suggest a very effective, inexpensive strategy that will benefit the executive as well as the reputation of the company. Encourage your up-and-coming leaders to serve as board directors for non-profit organizations in your region.   There are countless non-profit organizations, large and small, working to improve the quality of life in your community. They focus on any number of things – education, child welfare, senior citizens, the arts – the list goes on and on. All of them are hungry for board leadership and need volunteers with business skills to help them achieve their missions while maintaining their margins.   I joined my first non-profit board when I was in my early 30s and about ten years into my career. I have been involved with one board or another ever since. Right now, I serve on four...

Professional Development? Me?

03/12/2012 10.42 EST

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As leaders, we encourage our staff members to think about professional development.   What do they want to do to keep current in their field? What additional skill sets or experiences do they want to add to their portfolio? What seminars would they be interested in attending? Are they interested in becoming more involved in the community to broaden their background and network?   Hopefully, we provide opportunities that will stretch them and expand their thinking.  As my career was just launching, I had a very forward-thinking boss.  She sat me down and asked me what specific organizations I wanted to get involved with in the community.  I truly had never thought about it before and remember being stumped for an answer.  She rightfully thought it was never too early to volunteer, expose myself to different experiences and expand my network.  I don’t know if I appreciated it at the time, but I certainly do now.   Where do you begin when thinking about focusing on your own professional development?  Here are a few thoughts to get started:   What are you passionate about?  It may be helpful to begin expanding your knowledge in areas where you have the most interest.  If you are interested in the subject or topic, you most likely will be eager to spend the time to learn more and will naturally be good at it. Identify specific gaps or areas where you need to improve.  If there is a functional area that...