How to identify the right leaders for your organisation

5 mins
Sellick  Partnership

By Sellick Partnership

Finding the right leaders for any organisation can be a challenge, however, it doesn’t need to be. Even in a candidate short market, like the one we are currently facing, there are a number of steps any organisation can take to ensure they are hiring the right leaders.

The events of the last 18 months have brought about radical changes in the job market, many of which are being felt at the most senior level. With the pandemic speeding up the digital revolution, it has never been more important to ensure that your organisation has forward-thinking leadership to ensure you remain competitive.

With this in mind, in this blog we will explore a range of issues associated with succession planning and highlight some of the ways to ensure the right leadership is in your organisation.

How to approach the recruitment process

A singular approach will not work for every business looking to recruit new leaders. Those managing the recruitment process must consider what experience and skills a candidate will need to effectively manage a team and help the business to grow.

While the process is challenging, when done correctly it will mean recruiting the right candidate, either externally or from within your organisation, which can be a huge asset. The right leader will inspire the team, push forward growth and provide a new perspective on how to overcome challenges.

There are many skills and attributes that business leaders possess, many of which will be subjective to the needs of your organisation. With that said, every leadership candidate should be able to demonstrate these important qualities early in the recruitment process: resilience, empathy, communication and agility. These softer qualities are essential when it comes to working as part of the wider leadership team, and are important to ensure that your leadership candidates will be able to effectively work alongside the rest of the senior management team.

Look within your organisation

Before beginning the recruitment process, you should think critically about the skills and attributes your business will most benefit from in a new leadership candidate.

The first step is to undertake a skills audit to better understand if you have the desired skills already available within your organisation. Not only will this exercise encourage your employees to think critically about their capabilities and the areas they should look to develop, but it also provides an opportunity to identify their individual career goals and ensure there is the necessary support in place to ensure their success.

Providing a clear development plan and support is an essential tool for helping with staff retention and succession planning within the wider business.

Consider what experience and skills are most valuable

While candidates with impressive past experience may look enticing, you must do your best to understand how their specific skill set and background will add value to your organisation. While a person might have been hugely successful in a previous role, it is always good to remember that this does not guarantee that they will be able to replicate this level of success within your organisation.

Instead, consider the strengths of your wider leadership team and the areas you want to improve. For example, if your business is too process-driven, ask potential candidates about how they would approach transforming operational elements and why they believe their approach would work.

This approach can help you understand how a candidate would fit within the broader senior team, and also give a feel for their attitude towards leadership.

Re-think your talent evaluation process

In order to find the right candidate for your organisation, you will sometimes need to break away from the standard recruitment practices you have used in the past.

While it is only natural to want to find a candidate who can tick all the boxes, this very approach can lead you to miss out on the right talent for your business.

Taking a more flexible approach to the recruitment process will allow you to meet with candidates from a broader range of backgrounds and with more varied past experience. Perhaps one of the candidates that you would have previously discredited for not meeting your rigid criteria is actually an ideal fit.

Understanding the most important skills for a leader can help you make more confident choices and identify the areas in which there is room to compromise.

No matter how perfect a candidate may seem on paper, if they do not share the same ideals and values as your organisation, they will not make a good leader. With company culture so important, you must ensure that you select a candidate who will be able to live up to the ideals of your business and champion these ideals to the wider team.

Consider recruiting from outside your organisation

While it is great to promote from within the ranks, sometimes you should look outside your business for the right talent to strengthen your leadership team.

In recent years, there has been a great deal written about the importance of diversity in leadership at board level. While it can be tempting to recruit new leaders who are similar to their predecessors, bringing together experienced industry professionals with different backgrounds and career paths has been proven to enhance creativity and critical thinking.

Research carried out by the Boston Consulting Group has found that organisations with more diverse management teams have reported revenues almost a fifth higher (19%) than those with below-average diversity scores, meaning that it makes business sense to explore alternative options for new leadership candidates.

Not only do external candidates provide an opportunity to expand the knowledge and expertise of your leadership team, they also bring with them a wealth of experience developed during their time working within other organisations.

This can be particularly valuable when it comes to reshaping the culture of a business, where a neutral third-party viewpoint can be invaluable. Individuals who have worked outside your organisation will be able to look objectively at what can be done to improve your business and draw on what has been successful in other businesses.

Do you have the resources and skills required to find the right leader?

Unlike when recruiting for other positions, sourcing senior leadership candidates can require a strong network of talent and the ability to reach out to qualified individuals who are not actively looking for their next opportunity. In order to find the right candidate, you may find it valuable to work with an experienced recruitment partner who can leverage their pre-existing relationships with strong senior leaders within a given sector.

These relationships are especially useful when looking to recruit in a candidate short market — such as now. With fewer senior leadership candidates readily available, it is important to work with a recruitment partner with experience recruiting for positions at this level, to help make the process easy to manage and work with you to find the right leader for your business.

While identifying the right leaders for your organisation is challenging, working with an experienced recruitment specialist can help you manage the process. Drawing on the experience and network of an objective third party can help you prioritise the skills that are most valuable to your business. Only by thinking critically about your recruitment process will you stand the best chance of finding a candidate who can have a meaningful impact on your organisation.

If you are in need of the right leadership to guide your organisation through these changing times, Sellick Partnership is best placed to help you source the right people with our tailored and trusted senior and executive recruitment solutions. To learn more about how our experienced Recruitment Partners can help you, get in touch today.