How to appoint executives fit for a disrupted, digitised, virtual world

18 Jun 2020

How to appoint executives fit for a disrupted, digitised, virtual world

As the criteria for leadership success change, how do you best risk-proof your next senior hiring to deliver beyond the current COVID-19 crisis?

As we emerge from lockdown, it will become clearer as to what is being transformed, any enduring themes from the past, and what has disappeared.

What has emerged is that the rules of play have indeed changed, given the significant structural break in economies, consumer trends, markets, business models, supply chains and financing. And there are emerging changes in employee expectations too.

A newly-appointed CEO or C-Suite leader will be expected to deliver value and be more impactful much more quickly and visibly.

So what is going to change in appointing these senior executives in our disrupted, digitised world?

How are leadership Success Profiles changing?

Our recent Leadership Confidence Index research identified that only 15% were confident their leaders would manage through disruption.

Confidence in the CEO and key C-Suite positions was at least 15% below their critical importance to delivering sustainable success.

As leaders move from managing crises to resetting the strategy and leading the transformation of their organisation, we can draw on our research as to the mindset of the top leaders:

  • In the crisis: driven, determined, courageous, decisive at speed
  • As they reset the strategy: visionary, curious, investigative, inclusive problem-solvers
  • As they lead the organisational transformation: game changers, value creators, entrepreneurs, risk-takers

‘A’ players have all these characteristics and play them in at the right time – they are inherently agile and have the right impact with the right audience.

Leaders who are less well-rounded will be wise if they play in others who have a diverse mindset and strengths to complement them at the right time.

They need others who are more nimble to challenge them – they need to listen and integrate diverse perspectives at pace.

Hiring to meet short and longer-term strategies

Your CEO and Board will define what needs to be done in short order, followed by a strategy to take advantage of market disruption through challenging times. These decisions will define whether an ‘A’ player is a must. Or could a ‘B’ player be sufficient, because there are compensating characteristics and mindsets in their team?

Our LeaderFit Model enables you to prioritise and define the critical competencies required in the Success Profile for an executive managing through disruption.

How is the selection of executives changing?

If mindsets and characteristics are critical, our clients are looking for more insight than a career inventory.

Research indicates that experience and skills only account for 40% of performance. Furthermore, this can be a  blocker to considering diverse candidates.

In addition, past high performance does not guarantee an individual’s ability to apply their skills and experience in new situations with diverse challenges such as dealing with serious disruption.

Clients now value independent and objective data on the competencies, agility and motivations of candidates – the other elements of performance and potential – rather than rely on their intuition. This is useful information which explores a number of important questions.  Can they change plans quickly, will they be the disruptor, how resilient will they be with more waves of disruption?

This data is particularly helpful during a period when virtual meetings are the norm.

Overcoming Zoom limits on nuanced hiring criteria

Zoom calls certainly feel more formal. For example, board or team introductions have to be more orchestrated. EQ and chemistry indicators are more difficult to evaluate in this distanced, virtual environment.

It makes more nuanced hiring issues more difficult to answer.

Will the newcomer fit the culture, can they flex their impact, will they be a truly collaborative partner?

Our LeaderFit Profile identifies candidates’ characteristics and agility to help inform, compare and bring together the views of all stakeholders in the selection process, whether relating virtually or not.

If more knowledge is required, we provide in-depth LeaderFit assessments. Our LeaderFit Team Profile also checks out what compromises or trade-offs can be made with the least risk due to team members’ strengths.

How is the process of onboarding changing?

A newly-appointed senior leader always faces a challenging first few months in the job. All eyes are on them, expectations are high, and time is of the essence. Now, more than ever. Add to that the task of establishing a leadership presence at a distance – which of course is done in many large global organisations.

How can you set them up for success – and ensure their virtual leadership has a positive impact?

  1. Developing a virtual executive presence. Armed with technical advice and feedback from any assessments or profiling the newcomer can be coached as to how to project themselves, communicate with impact and establish a presence in different virtual settings. This will accelerate the development of trust between the CEO, Board and other executives and as a figurehead internally or ambassador externally. We offer LeaderFit feedback sessions and LeaderFit Impact training as part of onboarding coaching.
  2. Getting to know the organisation virtually. Developing a package of information around the organisation’s history, culture and strategic priorities is invaluable. In addition to the onboarding calendar of virtual meetings in the first month to 90 days, virtual tours of the organisation’s activities are becoming the norm as are team presentations or personal videos covering the day job. What can be missed is the “meet and greet” before or after a formal event so introducing ice breakers to a virtual event will help build more informal interactions and relationships.
  3. Leveraging the team profile. Every new senior executive needs to take stock of their leadership team quickly. Our LeaderFit Team Profile provides a quick diagnostic of the team’s strengths and capabilities and will facilitate a team discovery process to help align the leadership team to their new leader’s expectations and goals.

Of course, every situation is different, and the current operating landscape is in almost permanent flux. But one thing remains an enduring truth, there is no second chance to succeed when selecting, appointing and stepping into a new senior position.

Getting off on the right foot must be the aim – and we are here to help throughout the process.

If you would like further information about our LeaderFit Model, Individual Profile, Executive Assessments, Team Profile, Onboarding Coaching and LeaderFit Impact Training, do get in touch