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...

What Companies Are Looking for in their HR Leaders

11/28/2011 02.45 EST

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In the executive search world, I often hear several “ideal profiles” when companies are looking for new human resources leaders; however, most companies have one thing in common: they want a solid human resources generalist who “knows their stuff” across a variety of functional areas.   In addition to broad-based human resources skills, talent management, leadership development and sometimes executive compensation expertise are critical.  While the most frequently discussed traits in the ideal description include business-oriented, passionate, trusted advisor, emotionally intelligent and high-energy, the importance of these competencies vary based on the business – is the company global or domestic?  Growth-oriented or contracting?  Publicly or privately-held?   Some questions you may want to ask to help clarify the ideal human resources profile for your company may include:   Do we need an executive who will be a confidante and advisor to the CEO and senior team? Will the leader need experience in evaluating potential mergers and acquisitions as well as being engaged in integrating new businesses? How involved will the leader be in increasing the level of engagement with the workforce to ensure the company retains its talent? Will this person inherit a seasoned team or will they need to develop employees and identify new team members? How much building or reshaping of the organizational structure will be needed? Will benefits need to be scrutinized to ensure there is a balance between quality of offerings and cost efficiencies? How much time will this individual spend on major...

The Ideal Retained Search Relationship

11/21/2011 12.27 EST

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While conducting the search for a Vice President of Human Resources for an international consumer goods company last year, I had the hardest time convincing the hiring manager to interview one of the candidates we surfaced for the position.  She had fewer years of experience than he was seeking, her industry exposure was related but not a one-to-one match and she had several moves early in her career – something he reacted negatively to.  He just did not want to interview her.  After going back and forth with him as the search progressed, I finally said “Brian, trust me. She’s the right person for the job.”   He begrudgingly acquiesced and, after three rounds of interviews, enthusiastically offered her the role.  He promoted her within six months of her start date.  While speaking with him recently about his reluctance to grant that first interview, he said “I would never have interviewed her based on her resume.”  At that point, I knew I had earned my fee for the assignment.   Retained search did itself a disservice during the pre-information age when it held up the mysteries of candidate development as one of the key differentiators for the industry.  The message was “we can find people that you can’t.”  The industry made it seem like there was some black box—locked away in the safe at corporate headquarters—that held the names of executives who somehow couldn’t be accessed by those not initiated into the executive search club.  As candidate...

Why Technology Will Never Replace Executive Search

07/27/2011 10.43 EST

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The business of finding and securing talent has been transformed by technology over the past 15 years. The biggest changes have taken place in the processes used to hire and develop entry and mid-level people in organizations. That world is full of Applicant Tracking Systems, Recruitment Process Outsourcers, on-line job posting and candidate databases. If you engage an executive who runs an internal recruitment function for a large company in a 30-minute conversation, I can pretty much guarantee that they will spend 25 of those minutes speaking about systems and technology. Our business is focused entirely on senior executive positions – so-called “C-level” executives – who run companies or divisions, or report to the people who run them. In our part of the talent-finding world, technology has also had a significant impact. We use sophisticated databases to identify executives and many forms of technology to communicate with them. If it is too expensive or time-consuming to interview them in person, we use Skype. Since everyone in the world has at least one cell phone, we can usually reach out directly to people we want to speak with, instead of trying to leapfrog over executive assistants. So, it’s true that technology has changed how we do our work. In many ways, it has made us more efficient. For years I have been hearing about how firms like ours will be put out of business by technology – why would you need a search firm if you have LinkedIn?...