The hiring process is no easy task. When hiring new employees, CEOs are faced with many challenging decisions that will have a major impact on the success and future of their company. It is important for a CEO to understand that hiring is both a science and an art. There are logical processes a CEO needs to go through in selecting a key hire including reviewing resumes, references, CVs, etc., but there is also an art to it. The art involves being as objective as possible throughout the entire process.
In my experience as an executive advisor, I have seen many clients fall into the same trap of looking for someone who is too much like themselves. They look for someone they are compatible with and can enjoy being around. While this may be a good quality, the most important question a CEO must consider is whether or not the person can take on the role and execute at a level that the company needs.
Choosing the wrong hire can have detrimental effects on a company, bringing down employee morale, decreasing productivity, damaging client relations, and more. This is why an executive advisor can be so helpful when it comes to the hiring process. An executive advisor offers a fresh perspective and outside point of view to help CEOs make well thought out, objective decisions on who to bring into their company.
Listed below are several qualities to look out for when looking for the best new hires for your company:
One of the greatest qualities to look for in a new employee is energy. The individual should demonstrate that they have what it takes to give 100% every day. At the same time, their high energy levels will reflect positively on other employees and motivate them to do the same.
A second essential quality for a good employee is passion. The individual should be passionate about what the company is all about. If the person is not genuinely excited about the product or their particular role in the company, there is a good chance they will not be willing to give everything they have towards completing company goals.
Meets Specific Job Requirements:
The most important and seemingly obvious quality that all good employees should possess is the ability to meet the specific requirements of their job title. Sometimes a CEO may overlook this and focus more on how they engage and interact with the individual. While this is a important consideration, one must think about what type of individual will be able to get things done for the company. A person may be likable, but if they cannot bring in results and tangible value, they are really only slowing the company down.
Identifying the qualities that will lead to quality interaction and fit in with the company’s culture and with other employees is the final piece. Uncovering the way a candidate will live up to the real operating principles of the company cannot be undervlued. This “fit” between candidate and principles is a determining factor of long term success for the candidate and the organization.
Executive Advisor Leland Sandler speaking at an HR Conference in Amsterdam
As an executive advisor, I strive to help professionals expand their presence, knowledge, and leadership skills in today’s complex and ever growing business world. One of the most significant and effective ways to progress your career is through the practice of networking.
Some business professionals believe that the best way to succeed is to focus entirely on oneself and one’s own work. They believe it is better to concern themselves with their own responsibilities and aspirations than to look around at what everyone else is doing. However, while growing as an individual is certainly significant, engaging and communicating with other professionals in your field is equally important; in fact it is essential.
Job networking plays a key role in the success of your career and of your business. The larger your business network, the larger potential you have to gain customers, job opportunities, recognition, and resources. Listed below are several essential networking techniques for any professional looking to increase their influence and success while creating real, powerful change in their industry.
1. Social Media
In today’s internet based society, many people are engaging more online than they are in person. Social media has provided us with numerous unique platforms that allow us to engage and interact with people who share our interests from all around the world. Through sites like Linkedin, Twitter, Crunchbase, About.me, and more, we are able to make connections with people we might otherwise never come into contact with. For this reason, building professional profiles and participating in conversations online are essential aspects of successful networking.
2. Conferences and Seminars
While social media has come to play a major role in today’s professional networking strategies, classic, face to face interactions are still very relevant and important. Attending conferences and seminars provides a great opportunity to make real, in person connections with leaders in your industry. Many conferences will provide published lists of all attendees of the event. To get a head start in the networking process, make a list of specific individuals you would like to meet that may help you gain valuable insight and move forward in your career endeavors.
3. Networking is a Two-Way Street
It is important to remember that networking is not meant to be used only for your own benefit. Instead, networking should be viewed as a two-way street. Networking isn’t all about figuring out how you can best gain from connecting with another individual. Networking is about building mutually valuable relationships. It is best if your goal in connecting with another is to see what value you can provide to them. If one side is gaining everything and giving nothing in return, the relationship is sure to fail or be very short lived.
In my previous blog, I discussed several basic strategies for effectively demonstrating lateral leadership. Lateral leadership is a form of leadership where no particular title or position is required. It encourages coordination and cooperation between different groups and departments all working to achieve a common goal. You do not need to be a high level CEO or manager to be a leader. Leadership is not about waiting to be called upon to give instruction. Rather, it is about identifying the opportunities to step in and demonstrate leadership in a way that will create initiative and positive influence within the group.
Honing the skills to become an effective leader takes time and patience. However, the payoff is certainly worth it. By mastering the following strategies for lateral leadership, you will soon find doors to success swinging open with endless opportunities to create valuable change for your organization.
Establishing a broad network of relationships with people both inside and outside your company and field of expertise is an essential part of becoming a lateral leader. Through networking, you will find people who are willing to offer you support and people who can provide you with connections to even bigger networks, expanding your overall capacity for success.
Take the time to meet with your team and the people you are working with. Ask about their ideas and opinions on how to achieve the task at hand while sharing your own thoughts and ideas as well. Reacting to one another’s ideas and bouncing different ideas of each other will help you learn how the goals of the group will be completed most effectively for everyone involved. There is always more than one way to go about completing a task. Some managers will stick strictly to their own strategies that have worked in the past. However, every individual is unique and works in a different way. Instead of forcing your way on others, try engaging in more productive consultation.
Building a Coalition
Simply put, there is strength in numbers. Gathering a group of influential people together around a common goal will create a higher sense of authority and lead to higher levels of support. Building a coalition of supporters and individuals who believe in the same goal plays a vital role in lateral leadership. Instead of standing alone, find others who are going to be affected by the change you are proposing and get them on the same page. Once everybody understands and supports the big picture, each individual will take on their necessary role to lead the organization into the great and inevitable change that is sure to follow.
Demonstrating leadership does not require a specific title or rank in an organization. Whether you are a CEO, assistant manager, intern, replacement hire, new hire, or even a recent college graduate looking for a first job, it is important to be able and willing to take on a leadership role at any given point in time throughout your career. In today’s complex business world, management positions are not always clear cut. Employees may work as a team on an equal playing field or work under multiple supervisors at a time. At one point or another in your career, you may find yourself having to lead a group of people who you have no formal authority over. When this is the case, there are several techniques and principles that will lead you on the road to success. Throughout my many years as an executive advisor with the Sandler Group, I have found the following principles to be the most effective:
Positivity, hard work, and enthusiasm are contagious. Individuals who show genuine passion and appreciation for their work often deliver great results and motivate others to do the same. People are naturally drawn to leaders with a clear vision and high level of enthusiasm. Even when you are not directly in charge, you can always offer leadership by raising the overall energy of a group, and motivating them around one common goal. Often, pure emotion and leading by example are more effective strategies than giving orders and directives.
Maintain Your Ego
In order to demonstrate leadership effectively, one must do so without acting arrogant or looking for approval. When an egocentric individual does have authority over a group, the group will often complete the required tasks, but may do so begrudgingly and without optimal effort. As this is the case, an egocentric individual giving instruction to a group without formal authority will not be taken seriously. When employees don’t respect their leaders and are left uninspired, their work ethic becomes less efficient, causing their business to slowly decline. Be open to others. Recognize that you are not the one who needs to have all the answers; rather you are the one to help bring about the best answers from the group.
Be Invested- Ask Questions
An effective informal leader does not stand around keeping watch over other individuals. Rather, the informal leader plays an active role in the group’s efforts by being authentically inquisitive and asking questions. The ultimate goal of any leader is to ensure a certain outcome is achieved effectively by a group of individuals. How that leader goes about his efforts determines how successful the outcome will be. Being engaged in a project as a leader will have a positive influence on the others in the group, showing them you are just as invested in the project as they are. Demonstrating inspiring and authentic leadership skills will make a big difference in the success of your business as well as the success of your career.
Leland Sandler helps teams surpass challenges and improve their leadership, team building, and communication skills.
With over 30 years of experience in education and executive advising, I have gained many rewarding experiences working with a wide range of clients. Working with a diverse group of individuals, however, means that every situation is unique, which can lead to certain obstacles and challenges the executive advisor must overcome.
Some of the major challenges an executive advisor may face while working with a client include:
- Having a client who sees advising simply as a “nice to have” luxury rather than a necessity
- Having a client who is not willing to confront their blind spots; or having a client who has identified their blind spots, but is not willing to engage in changes that will lead to successful growth
- Working with a client who is not open to feedback on their performance or how they “show up”
- Getting clients to make the necessary investment in themselves or in their teams (even with ROI data to support an investment)
To sum up these challenges, it can be difficult to work with a client who is not fully committed to making the necessary changes to improve themselves, their employee and team relationships, as well as their entire business. The first step to making a positive permanent change is to recognize the need for change and to prepare oneself to do whatever it takes to make that change a reality.
Once a client is committed to creating positive change, there are still a number of challenges they must work through with their executive advisor to excel in their position and bring their business to a higher level of success. Today’s business world is an uncertain, complex, and ever changing environment which has a large impact on the executive advising strategy. Some of the most challenging and significant advising strategies include:
- Helping a client understand that every person is unique; having the ability to tolerate complexity and ambiguity is one of the most important aspects that make up a strong leader.
- A leader has to be assessed in relation to the level of complexity their job or company is demanding of them. An executive advisor must look at how a leader copes and reacts to things like complexity, different perspectives, and abstractions and determine what the demands of the position are calling for.
- Dealing with uncertainty calls for courage and openness; an advisor looks to help a client recognize the value of points of view that are different from their own. The advisor must help the client understand the value of being truly curious as to how others see a certain situation and what they propose to do about it.
However, once all is said and done, the final results of a successful advising experience far outweigh the challenges and difficulties faced along the way. Seeing an individual gain the courage to confront themselves and the strength to push forward through setbacks is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had as a professional. Executive advising is all about making real change happen; helping business leaders and teams discover different ways of communicating, making difficult decisions, and dealing with conflict.
Leland Sandler speaking at an HR conference in Zurich
An executive advisor plays a key role in establishing powerful and enduring change in businesses and organizations through a unique set of strategies and techniques. An executive advisor creates the conditions for individuals and teams to overcome their own internal barriers to change, to take stock of and transcend their own blind spots, and to see errors and weaknesses as prime opportunities for personal growth. Once the strategy for execution is established, the advisor helps the client instill the process, through practices, tools, techniques, and structure, that leads them to permanently change themselves for the better.
A professional may seek the service of an executive advisor for a number of reasons. Listed below are some of the most common roles an executive advisor takes on throughout his career:
- Expand the ability of leaders and CEOs to deal with the increasing complexity of the world in which they operate in
- Help professionals deal more effectively with a number of possible constituents including board members, direct reports, customers/clients, as well as business development relationships
- Assist first time CEOs in need of a safe sounding board to help guide them and challenge them in areas where they do not yet have experience
- Provide direct, honest feedback to professionals and someone to hold them accountable as they deal with important and challenging issues
- Identify differences and issues between individual team members (work styles, communication, decision making, etc) and make concrete suggestions on how to better optimize execution and meeting their goals.
While it is important for the executive advisor to be experienced and knowledgeable to provide efficient advising service to the client, it is equally important for the client to be a good advising candidate. A good advising candidate is someone who is open to the possibility of personal change, no matter how successful he or she has been in the past. An executive advisor will work best with someone who is willing to stay the course even when they finally confront a key issue about themselves and/or their team.
A good advisor-client relationship is highly confidential and personal. It requires a great deal of trust on the part of both parties. Advising involvement can vary from meeting with a client every couple of weeks to attending key meetings as well as individual advising meetings each week.
The key to being a successful executive advisor is to be able to effectively identify the focal issue or opportunity that the client most wants to go after. The advisor then must spend a fitting amount of time with the client to provide the initial scaffolding and structure necessary to bring about permanent change.