N2Growth https://www.n2growth.com/ We Find & Develop Great Leaders Wed, 30 Nov 2022 16:11:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.n2growth.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/cropped-N2Logo_950x950-2-32x32.png N2Growth https://www.n2growth.com/ 32 32 yes We Find & Develop Great Leaders N2Growth 2020 We Find & Develop Great Leaders N2Growth https://www.n2growth.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/ISI_NEW.png https://www.n2growth.com Weekly Bigger is Not Always Better When Selecting a Search Firm to Partner With https://www.n2growth.com/bigger-is-not-always-better-when-selecting-a-search-firm-to-partner-with/ Tue, 29 Nov 2022 20:01:20 +0000 https://www.n2growth.com/?p=132566 Kelli Vukelic, CEO of N2Growth examines the nuances that distinguish boutique search firms from their larger counterparts. Here are some […]

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Kelli Vukelic, CEO of N2Growth examines the nuances that distinguish boutique search firms from their larger counterparts. Here are some key insights into selecting the right executive search firm to partner with.

Senior leadership hires can make or break an organization. Various studies show that the failure rate of executives coming into new companies is 30 to 40 percent after 18 months. In a hiring market like the one we’re currently experiencing, finding a true game-changing leader is extremely challenging. Furthermore, making a hiring mistake is extremely costly in terms of both direct and indirect costs. So how do you find those top performers and disrupters that can take your organization to new heights? Internal recruiters do not have the tools or abilities to fill these critical leadership roles, their ‘open requisition’ stack is too full, and all roles get equal attention, whereas the most critical ones need a dedicated team. Once you recognize that an external search professional is needed, the decision for which one should be solved with a different calculus than in the past.

With demand for top executives outstripping supply choosing the best search firm to partner with can have a critical impact on the future of your organization. There are thousands of U.S. executive search firms that are looking to help to place talent in organizations. So how do you decide on which firm is the best fit? Should you use a large firm whose name is familiar to you because of ads and billboards? Or should you partner with a more niche, local boutique? Or should you consider a new emerging category of super elite boutiques that give you the best of both worlds, international reach, and creative, disruptive thinking? “I would caution that size is not always an indicator of success, and more importantly, not a risk mitigator,” said Kelli Vukelic, CEO of N2Growth, a Philadelphia-based management consulting and executive search firm. “A small elite class of boutique search firms is achieving this, providing you all of the executive search solutions of larger firms, but with a more hands-on, better-resourced approach. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to placing C-suite candidates. One-size-fits-one and having worked at both ends of the spectrum, here are my points for your consideration.” 

Plethora of Choices

There are countless options when it comes to executive search firms. On one end of the spectrum are the incredibly large firms, which come with big brand name recognition, high overhead, and revenues reaching into the billions annually, according to Ms. Vukelic. “Several of these publicly traded firms have good reputations, but they have historically catered to Fortune 500 companies,” she said. “If your organization is not a Fortune 500 company, your search can easily get lost in the shuffle or pushed down below the partner level, and placement costs can quickly exceed your price range with antiquated administrative fees that cover big overheads.”

On the other end of the spectrum, however, are boutique search firms. “You may be skeptical of these smaller enterprises, fearing that they lack the resources and experience to find the right executive for your organization,” said Ms. Vukelic. “But these fears are often unfounded — in fact, boutique firms are often better resourced, making them a better fit for your search.” 

Boutique Search Firms Offer a Personalized Approach

When engaging with a boutique firm, you are more likely to deal directly with the person or team leading your project. Typically, Ms. Vukelic notes that boutique firms create team structures to work on projects, and their “top-to-bottom” approach offers the client extraordinary attention to detail. “They can assess a client’s unique needs and then customize their approach accordingly,” she said. “An agile process allows time for listening, connecting, coaching, and advising. This personalized approach allows boutique firms to place candidates who are technically, academically, and culturally additive to the organization. This sets both the client and candidate up for success on the first go-around, saving everyone involved valuable time, money, and energy.”

By working with a boutique search firm on your C-suite placements, it is highly likely that you will interface and deal directly with the senior leadership of the company, according to Ms. Vukelic. “Direct interaction with the leader of the firm builds trust, allows you to voice any questions or concerns you may have, and get a real-time answer from a key executive,” she said. “A boutique firm will invest in learning your culture and talent needs. The senior engagement leader that works with you from the onset of the search will lead the process, speaking to every prospective candidate on your behalf. In a noisy recruitment market, where candidates have the upper hand, who do you want to tell your story and be that extension of you in the marketplace?” 

Kelli Vukelic is CEO of N2Growth and is responsible for the firm’s global executive search and leadership advisory services. Ms. Vukelic has spent more than two decades in executive search. Her areas of expertise include talent operations and strategy, and C-suite executive recruitment, mainly but not exclusively in technology organizations. Earlier, Ms. Vukelic served as the chief operating officer of N2Growth. Before joining N2Growth in 2020, she spent 20 years with Korn Ferry in several roles of increasing responsibility. Ms. Vukelic is also the co-author of Leadership Recruiting: Consulting Skills for Recruiters, a resource for senior executive talent professionals at all levels.

By contrast, when engaging with a large firm, Ms. Vukelic explains that you may only speak with a partner occasionally as they are likely busy chasing billings and not focused on your search day-to-day. “Larger firms often delegate key work to less tenured associates that you have never met and who have only second-hand knowledge of your organization and its needs,” she said. “They also have limited experience, meaning they bring a narrower perspective to the candidate process. These are the people telling your story in the marketplace. This can result in candidates whose resumes match your specification on paper but may not align with your goals or add anything new or different to your culture. Large firms are usually in a constant state of growth, which limits the attention they can pay to your search. A sizable client base may be great for them, but it might not be best for you.”

Boutique search firms take the time to learn the intricacies of their client’s company culture and goals. They operate with the understanding that trust is built every day and with each interaction, not bought with brand name recognition. 

Greater Executive Candidate Pool

“Executive search firms have an ethical and contractual obligation not to recruit from clients,” Ms. Vukelic said. “Because large firms conduct business with so many organizations, they have significant hands-off limitations which limit their recruiting strategies. Candidates that are active on a search within a firm are also off-limits for other searches. With large firms, this can equate to thousands of candidates who are unavailable to your search, severely limiting the talent pool.”

Transparent Search Process 

Many partners at large firms cannot describe their process in detail and often don’t adhere to an established methodology. Ms. Vukelic notes that this is because it is difficult to consistently execute a data-driven methodology within a large firm. Boutique firms are generally more transparent about and invested in their differentiated process. Ms. Vukelic emphasizes that you should expect to have access to data about your engagement and real-time reporting allowing you to better communicate and collaborate with the search firm.

Focus on Your Engagement, Not Upselling the Engagement

Cross-selling ancillary services is a huge priority for many large firms, so much so that partners at these firms are as concerned with cross-sales as with the search itself, and their attention is diverted from what you contracted them for in the first place. “Conversely, boutique search firms are, by and large, strictly focused on retained executive search and only solutions that enhance that process during or after an engagement,” said Ms. Vukelic. “Rather than diversifying into other services such as organizational design, boutique firms will often refer their clients to specialists, ensuring they remain focused on the task at hand.” 

Search Firm Completion Rates

When meeting with a search firm, Ms. Vukelic notes to ask what their completion rate is. She explains that you are likely to see that larger firms—which, by virtue of their size, can afford to leave a search unfilled— don’t have as strong a record of bringing candidates across the finish line as their boutique counterparts. “The constraints on large executive search firms are real; they limit the firm’s ability to bring great candidates to you and contribute value to your organization,” she said. “When selecting a firm for your search, critically assess the quality of service you will receive, instead of simply picking the largest firm on the market that can rattle a long list of past clients, which are now likely off limits to you.”

Generalists over Specialists in Search

Any day and every day Ms. Vukelic says that she would pick a generalist. “Specialists by function or industry, while very knowledgeable and subject matter experts, tend to be less creative about where to find disruptive talent,” she said. “Most search firms don’t know what clients want because they don’t know what questions to ask outside the stock list. The industry needs to move beyond the HR and talent acquisition world and that line of questioning to expand thinking and explore the art of what is possible. If you want to see the best leaders, look for leaders rather than a checklist of skills and experience. Many clients are seeking to challenge old norms with known networks and specialist search firm models are too narrow and candidate recommendations are to be expected and boring.”

Closing Thoughts on Selecting a Search Firm

“Large search firms may seem appealing due to perceived brand value and organization size, but when it comes to the attributes that will serve you and your goals, get to know the new class of boutique firms as you may find that they provide a better option for your C-suite talent needs,” Ms. Vukelic said. “Big enough to have significant horsepower and global reach, but not so big that they lose that relational, bespoke approach that is just for you and your organization.”

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Executive Coaching Company Breakdown: How to Get the Most Out of Coaching for Strategic Change https://www.n2growth.com/executive-coaching-company/ Tue, 15 Nov 2022 19:06:31 +0000 https://www.n2growth.com/?p=132363 Executives are the best business leaders in the world. They are subject matter experts in their field, the brightest minds, […]

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Executives are the best business leaders in the world. They are subject matter experts in their field, the brightest minds, and equipped with the immense technical skills and experience to be at the helm of the world’s most powerful and disruptive companies.

The truth is that even these world-class leaders have room to grow and can find ways to identify their weaknesses, optimize their performance, and become even better leaders. But often, these top-tier executives don’t know where to go to achieve this critical perspective and guidance at this stage in their careers.

So, the question remains: when these top executives want to optimize their performance, become more self-aware, and improve their margins even further, how can they do so? By turning to a skillful executive coaching company that knows exactly how to deliver results when it comes to leadership coaching and helping leaders do what they do best: optimize their performance, imagine further, and lead well.

Executive coaching and talent development, in general, have been around for a few decades. Still, it has taken many different forms, and today, not all executive or leadership coaching is created equal. For example, executive coaching is often likened to general business coaching, which is an incorrect and potentially dangerous comparison to make.

That’s because while business coaching experience might help leaders develop the skills they need for their job, executive coaching goes far beyond this and doesn’t actually touch the technical skills a leader might need for their role. Instead, coaching business professionals through a highly skilled executive coaching company takes things to the next level by allowing the world’s most talented leaders to identify how they can improve every aspect of their work and lives to lead their organizations through targeted and strategic change.

What Is Executive Coaching?

What exactly is executive coaching, and how can an executive coaching company benefit leaders who are already subject matter experts in their field? When you’re at the top leading organizations, is there still room to grow? The short answer is: absolutely because, as we touched on above, executive coaching is far different than standard business coaching.

To clarify, executive coaching is not professional mentoring and does not help leaders in their specific expertise. Executive coaching acknowledges that senior leaders are already masterful in their craft and don’t need help in these areas.

Instead, executive coaching is designed for senior executives who want to optimize their performance on the deepest, most nuanced levels. Executive coaching does this by guiding leaders to identify where they can improve outside their primary technical abilities and develop their skills on this advanced level. Executive coaching provides leaders with the tools they need to vastly improve their margins so they can experience trickle-down effects in the rest of their leadership work and other aspects of their lives.

How is that possible? Executive coaching is similar to holding up a mirror so an executive can see themselves. This powerful reflection and guidance can help executives identify blind spots they might be missing.

These blind spots can often be unproblematic until moments of instability or uncertainty suddenly become detrimental. Executive coaching can allow executives to identify areas where they can improve outside of their expertise and immediate responsibilities, ultimately impacting their work output and ability to reach continuously higher targets.

What Do Executive Coaches Do?

Executive coaching serves a few primary functions. Generally speaking, executive coaching can help leaders increase their capacity to lead well, think clearly, and improve their personal margins, whatever those may be. Through these improvements, executive coaching prepares leaders to be best poised to create strategic organizational change.
Executive coaching doesn’t only serve executives and their organizations. It also prepares leaders to provide better opportunities to their employees and others around them.

The truth is that the world’s best leaders invest time in developing themselves and prioritize their leadership development so that they not only lead better but create more leaders by bettering others. That’s because top-tier executive leaders devote time to imparting principles, techniques, ideas, values, and emotional energy to others, sharing their wisdom and expertise with younger employees in order to create a stronger and more dynamic business.

Executives today are saddled with a business landscape unlike anything in the past. There are new and transforming leadership challenges, such as the mass-resignation trend known as the Great Resignation, and hiring challenges leading to a globally-recognized talent shortage impacting 75% of companies around the globe. Today, executive leaders need to be skilled in areas beyond their technical and managerial expertise to motivate their teams, continuously improve their own output, and take their organizations to new heights.

Plus, it turns out that most executives want advice and input, even at this senior level. One Stanford study revealed that while two-thirds of CEOs say they don’t receive any leadership advice, almost 100% of them want it and welcome executive coaching.

This demonstrates that despite being masters of their craft and holding positions at the top of their organizations, executives still crave advice and the opportunities to reflect on and improve their own work. Executive coaching fulfills this need.

Why Should Your Organization Be Interested?

Is executive coaching simply a “nice to have,” or is it vital for today’s global leaders? There are many reasons why executive coaching is necessary for executive leaders who want to take their talents to the next level and for organizations that want to be industry disruptors that can weather any storm. Here is why your organization should be interested in partnering with an executive coaching company.

What Is the ROI of Working With an Executive Coach?

The powerful return on investment (ROI) of working with an executive coach is known and notable for both the executive themselves and the organization as a whole. Firstly, executive coaching has long been shown to bring ROI to businesses overall, with one study showing that executive coaching produced a 529% ROI and “significant intangible benefits to the business.”

Other studies have reported that ROI figures between 500% and 700% are “commonly reported as being a reliable ROI for executive coaching.” This ROI comes from many places, including increasing employee productivity, positive outcomes on employee management, talent management, and retention in an organization because executives who work with coaches are better equipped to lead their teams more effectively.

As it turns out, executive coaching doesn’t only lead to better employee retention in an organization: it can help executives themselves stick around longer, helping companies grow and impact both positive change and business results. In general, professional development is a proven method of boosting employee retention, with research showing that when team members receive training, they’re more likely to stay with an organization for longer.

This is due to the fact that increasingly, employee values are shifting in the workplace. Previously, factors such as compensation, benefits, and perks were the top contenders for what kept employees happy.

But a study by McKinsey revealed that in today’s business landscape, employees also want to feel valued by their organization. This study also showed that 53% of businesses said they are experiencing “greater voluntary turnover than they had in previous years.” Executive coaching can provide intangible value and benefits to leaders, fueling executive retention.

Executive coaching can also help executives increase their personal learning retention, empowering them to retain better, adopt, and deploy advanced leadership techniques. Data tells us that leadership skills are best retained when taught on the job and in real-world situations.

For example, one study found that leadership skills learned through public pedagogy had the most effective and consistent results. Simply trying to strengthen leadership skills through study alone led to “inferior results.” When executives partner with an executive coaching company, they get real-world and real-time feedback on their leadership practices and techniques and develop executive skills relating to their position.

Is Executive Coaching Worth It?

How can organizations and decision-makers determine if executive coaching is actually worth it? The truth is that executive coaching is absolutely “worth it,” both for individual leaders and the organization.

For overall improved business success, executive coaching can contribute to leaders who reach new heights and become ceiling-shattering disruptors in their organizations by focusing on their personal growth and core values. For example, research shows that growth-focused leaders who adopt development practices can “grow their top line twice as fast as their peers.”

As we discussed earlier, executive coaching also reaps many tangible benefits for the individual leader. Through executive coaching, these leaders can identify their weaknesses and blind spots and work to strengthen them in a highly-personalized setting. Leaders can also find ways to improve their own margins, both inside and outside their specialty, to optimize their work output and leadership practices.

What Companies Use Executive Coaching?

Executive leaders at many well-known companies have used executive coaching and have been very vocal about its benefits. The late Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, reportedly used coaching to improve his leadership style, identify and correct his gaps, and continuously improve himself. Marc Benioff (Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Salesforce), Brian C. Cornell (Chairman and CEO of Target Corporation), and Roger Enrico (CEO of Pepsi) all received coaching at the executive level while being at the helm of some of the most notable companies on the planet.

Oftentimes, individual executives who benefit from coaching understand the value of it and bring those ideologies to their organizations. This then creates cultures of continuous development in the workplace.
For example, Goldman Sachs doesn’t only offer learning opportunities for entry-level employees because it understands the value of executive development. With that in mind, they also provide their “most senior leaders executive coaching, leadership acceleration initiatives, and other training.”

Here at N2Growth, we’ve partnered with world-class leaders for executive coaching at some of the most powerful companies in the world, including executives at Deloitte, AIG Aerospace, Maghreb Industries, and Humana.

Advantages of Undergoing Executive Coaching Services

In order to understand the benefits and ROI of executive coaching services at your own organization, it’s important to tease out exactly how executive coaching can help transform executives. Here are some top advantages of partnering with an executive coaching company.

Advantage 1: Better Self-Awareness

One of the primary benefits of working with executive coaching firms is that executives can develop a better sense of self-awareness, which can, in turn, help executives lead better. Self-awareness refers to how much people are aware of their thoughts, actions, and feelings and how aware they are of their interactions with others.

Research tells us that those who are more self-aware have a better understanding of others, allowing them to lead more effectively. This research also revealed that self-awareness could lead to better performance by enabling leaders to understand exactly how they operate and how they can achieve optimal results through behavioral changes.

Having a better sense of self-awareness can also allow leaders to have increased self-reliance because they can determine their strengths and have confidence in their abilities to complete complex tasks and challenges. This means they can better trust their own decision-making and make more strategic big-picture decisions that can help the organization arrive at its desired future state.

Additionally, a survey found that 80% of people who received coaching reported increased self-confidence, while over 70% benefited from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills. Notably, 86% of companies reported recouping their investment in coaching and more. Based on reports like this, it’s clear that executive coaching has a tremendously positive impact on leaders, and it’s easy to see why the demand for coaching has grown exponentially.

Here at N2Growth, our executive coaching helps facilitate self-awareness in executive leaders through our deployment of internationally recognized assessments. We utilize the top assessments from around the globe to enable leaders to acknowledge their performance and take action using data and analytics. With these assessments, leaders can see from an objective viewpoint how they are performing, where they might be lacking, and how they can improve their performance in different areas of their leadership.

Advantage 2: Expand on Your Leadership Qualities

Executive leadership requires certain executive leadership qualities, most of which are learned over time, and need to be continuously updated, improved, and developed. Aside from subject matter expertise, top leaders might need executive qualities and skills, including strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, delegation, change management, and advanced communication and presentation skills.

While many of these skills can be learned slowly over time, there’s no guarantee that executives will learn all the leadership skills and qualities they need on the job. There’s also no guarantee of proficiency that a leader will operate at when skills and qualities are learned or developed informally.

However, by partnering with an executive coaching company, executives can fine-tune their leadership qualities, honing in on what they need to improve or update. For example, studies tell us that leaders demonstrate a 28% increase in leadership performance when they go through training.

When looking to expand on leadership qualities, executive coaching is an excellent way for leaders to identify their areas for improvement and expand and improve on essential leadership qualities.

Advantage 3: Work With Your Coach to Unlock Your Leadership Potential

Executive leaders are already incredible leaders. But in today’s work landscape, leaders need to be dynamic, adaptable and prepared to reach new heights. On the heels of the coronavirus pandemic and other unprecedented leadership challenges, executives are shifting the ways they lead.

As reported by McKinsey, one of the biggest changes in the focus of today’s leaders is “to aspire 10x higher,” where leading global executives are looking to unlock their organizations’ potential faster and at a greater magnitude than ever before. Leaders are looking to think bigger (at a faster pace than ever before) and are pushing themselves and their teams to imagine farther.

This sort of thinking can allow leaders to contribute more effectively to the team and the organization as a whole. While powerful, this level of potential can only be realized through executive coaching, which allows leaders to reflect and grow.

Realizing leadership potential also means being a healthier and happier leader, both inside the workplace and outside of it. When leaders unlock their potential, they’re far more likely to have increased job satisfaction than if they feel they’re falling short or not delivering disruptive results. Executives who realize their potential can be far more satisfied with their careers and lives.

Advantage 4: See Goals More Clearly and Purposefully

Another key advantage of partnering with an executive coaching company is that executives gain the skills and knowledge necessary to improve their ability to establish and take action toward achieving goals. In their positions, executives have the power to identify complex long-term goals for themselves, their employees, and the organization as a whole. Through the guidance and reflection that executive coaching provides, executives can better identify their goals and set strategic plans to achieve them.

Clear and purposeful goal setting doesn’t just provide lucidity for executives but can also help them lead their organizations more effectively toward goals. Data reveals that goal-setting can generally result in a 36% boost in performance, while 69% of leaders say that well-communicated goals are one of the main drivers of employee engagement.

Goal setting needs an executive approach due to the fact that it can easily be mismanaged. For example, research identifies common goal-setting practices that actually prohibit goal realization.

These common missteps include scenarios where employees feel disconnected from an organization’s goals, a focus on individual goals over team-based goals, and the failure of goals to quickly evolve as businesses do. Through the guidance of executive coaching, leaders can identify key team-based goals and easily establish ways to continuously develop them while also understanding how to lead employees towards goal realization effectively.

Advantage 5: Stronger Relationships With the Right People

The relationships that executives cultivate with other people can be powerful in influencing learning, growth, business opportunities, and critical decision-making. Through executive coaching, executives can learn how to develop stronger relationships with the right people, whether those are other executives, leaders, employees, or other potential business partners.

Research tells us that the more senior someone’s position is, the more they must rely on relationships to move their initiatives and career forward. That’s because the right connections can help executives take their work to the next level through high-level discussions, idea-sharing, and opportunities for collaboration. Simply meeting the right people isn’t enough; executives need to have the self-awareness and self-reliance necessary to develop deeper relationships.

At the executive level, stronger relationships with the right people mean having more effective relationships with everyone. One of the ways this can be achieved is through developing the ability to take on greater responsibility (another impact of improved self-reliance).

When executives take on more responsibility successfully, their team will have greater trust in them as a leader, strengthening relationships. Through executive coaching, executives can learn to deepen relationships and develop better accountability for actions and commitments.

It’s also important to note that a lack of relationship skills can prohibit excellent employees from reaching the executive level, with research finding that relationship skills can stall someone’s career if they’re not nurtured.

Advantage 6: Understand Others and Lead Them With Empathy

While many skills are critical for executive leadership, one of them often stands out from the pack: empathy. Empathy has been called “the most important leadership skill,” based on research that shows just how critical leading with empathy is to executive success. One study from Catalyst of nearly 900 employees found that empathetic leadership was “an important driver of employee outcomes such as innovation, engagement, and inclusion—especially in times of crisis.”

What exactly is empathy at the executive level, and how can working with an executive coaching company allow leaders to develop how they deploy empathy in the workplace? Empathy refers to the way people understand the thoughts and feelings of others, how well they can identify these feelings, and how they can demonstrate this understanding. In executive leadership, empathy developed through an executive coaching company can allow leaders to “step into the shoes” of their employees more effectively and demonstrate compassion.

There are many benefits when executives lead with empathy. That same study from Catalyst found that empathetic leaders can boost the innovation and engagement of their employees, which can contribute to new ideas and emotional investment from workers.

Empathetic leaders can also contribute to decreased employee burnout in their organization and can better connect with their employees by developing a deepening understanding of their life circumstances. Lastly, empathetic executive leaders are also more effective at fostering inclusive employee experiences, which can lead to many other positive experiences in the workplace, such as better employee retention.

When executives are more empathetic, they can improve their communication and work more efficiently and productively with others.

Advantage 7: Help Companies Achieve Sustainable Growth

Strategic and sustainable growth can only happen in organizations when the executives at the helm are prepared to lead in this manner. The truth is that sustainable development doesn’t happen overnight and doesn’t happen on its own.

Sustainable growth is desired because it is far more beneficial and impactful than rapid growth, which might seem appealing at first, but can often be unsustainable and unhelpful in the long run. For example, one study found that out of 5,000 fastest-growing companies, two-thirds of the firms on the list “had gotten smaller, been disadvantageously sold or gone out of business entirely” within eight years.

Sustainable growth can also help companies weather uncertain economic situations and downturns. McKinsey has identified that organizations can build resistance to economic challenges through several channels, including adaptability, which can help leaders meet longer-term goals of sustainable, inclusive growth. When executive leaders work with executive coaching companies, they can make better decisions and lean on their self-reliance to make dynamic decisions, even in the toughest economic times.

How N2Growth Can Help

If you’re looking for an executive coaching company that can help you or your executives take your organization to new heights, we’re here to help. We’re N2Growth, providing best-in-class executive coaching services for the world’s leading executives who want to learn how to optimize their performance. We help your organization create a purpose-driven, scalable culture of executive leadership through powerful executive coaching.

Executive coaching is critical because the opposite of executive growth is stagnation. And the truth is that static leaders govern stagnant organizations, while developing leaders lead growing organizations. Executive leaders are faced with the constant need to learn and develop by investing in their own personal growth.

Here’s how our N2Growth approach to executive coaching is different.

Our Approach to Executive Coaching (the Difference)

Here at N2Growth, our approach to executive coaching is unique due to the depth and breadth of experience our coaches possess and the range and flexibility of our coaching offerings. Our perspective on executive coaching is also different from the others because we acknowledge that the executives we work with are already subject matter experts in their craft. What executives at this level don’t need from us is career mentorship or assistance doing the things they already do extremely well.

Instead, our approach to executive coaching is to essentially hold up a mirror to executives to allow them to better themselves. We believe that at this level in an executive’s career, executives have essentially mastered their profession, and effective coaching can help them improve their personal margins.

What exactly does that mean? Many factors contribute to an executive’s leadership ability outside of specific career skills. These areas can often become blind spots because they might not seem directly related to a leader’s day-to-day tasks or duties.

But when improved upon, these margins can greatly impact how these executives function and their overall ability to be great leaders. Our N2Growth executive coaching strategy is designed to identify these blind spots and help leaders optimize their work in these areas.

At this professional level, human-centric leadership is necessary. That’s also why leadership assessments are a fundamental component of the N2Growth executive coaching strategy. We use globally-recognized core assessments because we believe that all leaders should think from a global perspective.

Our best-in-class assessment tools, assessment debriefs, and interpretations can help organizations glean valuable insights, which can help make your executive management team better. By using these assessment tools, leaders can recognize and take appropriate action based on precise data and analytics.

Another critical key component of the N2Growth executive coaching strategy is that it is not designed to attempt to change a leader’s personality. Instead, our precise technique helps raise an executive’s self-awareness so that they can optimize their work in a way that is unique to them and improve their own margins to become the most disruptive and effective leader possible.

Clients We Serve

We serve clients that want to develop executive leaders who will create immense value for their companies. In general, our client CEOs run companies that generate well over $1 trillion in revenue, and we have coached CEOs and Boards through more than $100 billion in exits.

Specifically, we coach the following:

  • Board of Directors
  • Individual Board Directors
  • CEOs & Entrepreneurs
  • CXOs & Senior Executives
  • Executive & Leadership Teams
  • High Potential & Emerging Leaders

We offer different individualized services that are flexible to meet the specific needs of our executives. We offer team coaching, one-on-one coaching, service CEOs looking for experienced advisors, and boards looking at composition, succession, or governance.

When it comes to our coaching methodologies, we offer many options. We provide in-person coaching, as well as phone and video coaching.

Coaching can be on an individual basis or for a group, and we also conduct immersive on-demand coaching. N2Growth is also pleased to offer workshops, facilitations, and leadership team development.

Our Locations

We are a global executive search firm and serve over 50 markets worldwide with executive search consultants in strategic locations around the globe, ready to assist you no matter where you are. Our locations and offerings include executive coaching in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Strategic Change Is on the Horizon

In a complex and challenging business landscape, executive leaders need to continuously develop and hone their own skills to maximize their effectiveness as a leader. By partnering with an executive coaching company, executives gain the powerful ability to reflect on their work and spot critical areas for improvement that otherwise would have been left unattended.

Executive coaching brings innumerable benefits to both executives and their organizations as a whole. For the individual executive, executive coaching allows them to reach greater heights, improve their margins, and identify key areas for improvement. They can also gain a better sense of self-awareness and self-reliance, expand their leadership qualities, unlock their potential, and set clear goals.

For the overall organization, executives who undergo coaching can facilitate stronger relationships with their people, lead with empathy (boosting innovation and engagement and decreasing employee burnout), and lead their organizations to sustained growth.

Here at N2Growth, our approach to executive coaching is unlike any other, and few other firms offer the depth of talent and experience in advising senior executives. Our coaches have deep experience in leadership development, strategy, innovation, team building, organizational design, and succession planning. Through our customized methodologies, focus on human-centric leading, and deployment of critical assessments, we are uniquely positioned to address the needs of organizations and executives who want to reach new heights.

Interested in learning more? Contact us and see how N2Growth can elevate your professional career with our tailored executive coaching solutions.

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Revealing the Value Often Overlooked in Executive Recruiting – A Look Into the Executive Search Process https://www.n2growth.com/executive-search-strategy/ Wed, 02 Nov 2022 17:30:15 +0000 https://www.n2growth.com/?p=132125 To compete as a world-class company, world-class executive leadership is required. And while finding this elite leadership who will take […]

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To compete as a world-class company, world-class executive leadership is required. And while finding this elite leadership who will take your organization to its desired future state is critical, top-tier candidates probably aren’t going to walk through the front door. On the heels of the global pandemic and the mass-resignation phenomenon known as the Great Resignation, there is a growing global talent shortage at a 16-year-high, showing no signs of slowing down. Plus, many of the executive candidates that are well-aligned to a role at your organization likely aren’t posting their resumes to job boards and are, in fact, passive candidates.

With that in mind, organizations can partner with a trusted executive search firm to deploy a robust, industry-leading executive search strategy to solve the organization’s most crucial, complex, and confidential placements. Leading executive search firms don’t just “fill positions” with candidates who meet the minimum requirements. Instead, they focus on bringing immeasurable value to your executive search by deeply understanding the company’s current and future needs while using best-in-class research and assessment practices to source the world’s best leaders.

What is executive search?

What exactly is executive search, and what differentiates it from a typical recruiting process? Filling executive roles is far more critical and sensitive than filling traditional roles at an organization. CEOs, Board members, and C-Suite leaders have a vital impact on your organization’s future. Executive search empowers organizations to find candidates who are not only aligned with the role but who are also technically, academically, and culturally additive to the organization.

Organizations need “one-size-fits-one” executives who will not only lead in an organization’s current state but can lead it through change and growth while adding immense value. Finding these candidates requires a highly technical executive search strategy driven in partnership with an organization specializing in executive search.

How does the executive search process work?

Conducting an executive search is a highly specialized and complex process, requiring a deep understanding of your organization and its needs. A qualified executive search professional will use this knowledge to take a personalized approach to each assignment, carefully assessing the requirements and goals of the position. Here is what you can expect from a highly qualified executive search strategy.

Step 1: Discovery and Synthesis

The first step of an executive search strategy is discovery, where your executive recruiting partner does a deep dive into your organization with due diligence. This discovery stage should also include alignment with key stakeholders in the organization.

Then, during the synthesis portion of this step, your executive search partner will work with you to create the crucial position description, which outlines exactly what your organization is looking for in its next leader. The best-in-class executive search firms don’t stop there, and additional steps are taken to ensure that this description will lead to an excellent hire, it is the blueprint for the entire journey. For example, here at N2Growth, we also execute Calibration to build our bulls-eye profile and “test” for various experiences that further align with your required outcomes for the role.

Lastly, you might be onboarded to any digital tools or systems your executive search partner uses during this stage. For example, at N2Growth, our clients are connected to our transparent search application, N2Vue, which gives you 24/7 access to your entire pipeline with real-time reporting, data, and analytics.

Step 2: Candidate Development

This second step of an executive search strategy involves continuously sourcing candidates until the search is closed. Candidates are identified who match not only the skills and experience required for the role but also who are a cultural ‘add’ and are competent for the position. They will contribute monumentally to your organization as it grows.

At N2Growth, we use a two-step interview phase to qualify candidates before introducing them to our partners. The first interview revolves around understanding a candidate’s skills and experiences, while the second is a competency interview. These two interviews ultimately build a complete view of the whole candidate. We also present new candidates to our clients bi-weekly.

Step 3: Client Interviews

Following the candidate development stage in an executive search strategy, you’re introduced to qualified candidates for the initial interview stages. This collaborative process with clients supports you in crafting the interview experience. As interviews progress, your executive search firm can leverage the acquired information to further direct the executive search strategy. For example, N2Growth uses dialogue and feedback from client interviews to shape further candidates and sourcing while supporting active candidates in the process.

Step 4: Assessment and evaluation with candidates.

Depending on which executive search firm you partner with, there are various ways that they might approach the assessment and evaluation portion of the search. As you start narrowing down your search to final candidates, N2Growth goes to great lengths to support your assessment of candidates while also debriefing you and your candidates during this step. To start with, we conduct a leadership assessment for every finalist candidate, and each candidate debriefs with an assessment consultant to verify the assignment results before the results are, in turn, presented to the client. We also conduct education, financial and criminal record verifications for finalist candidates and 360-degree reference checks.

Step 6: Negotiations

As you select your candidate, your executive search partner will take steps to ensure that your closing is seamless and efficient. At N2Growth, we pre-close candidates by gaining insights into their priorities to ensure a smooth negotiation stage for you. We also lead or broker negotiations as you see fit. This allows the client and candidate to start off on the right footing, excited to work together, not reminiscing about a perhaps difficult negotiation process.

Step 7: Transition

The executive search strategy does not end once a candidate is placed. The first three months for any new hire are typically the most critical, and the best executive search firms stay close to placed candidates during this crucial time. N2Growth follows up with placed candidates after 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and one year. As part of our process for all CEO/CHRO engagements, four-month transition coaching is included or as an additional solution for other roles as required.

What are the benefits of partnering with an executive search firm?

What value do executive search firms bring to the table, and what are the tangible benefits of partnering with a best-in-class firm? Here are the top three benefits:

Benefit 1: Solutions over candidates

As we touched on earlier, executive roles are far more critical, sensitive, and impactful for your organization than any other hire. That’s why executive search firms work to find solutions to your specific needs and goals instead of simply filling a box on our organization chart. A solution-driven executive search strategy means that your executive search partner deeply understands your organization, what you’re looking for in a leader, and will seek the skills and experiences required to take your organization to new heights.

Benefit 2: Access to top talent pool

There’s no other way of putting it: there are many executive hiring challenges that make top executive talent hard to come by. Unless you’re partnering with an elite executive search firm that has access to a globally-elite talent pool, sourcing top-tier candidates can be a challenge. The best executive search firms don’t only plug-and-play candidates from competitors but also have unique techniques and practices for sourcing and aligning candidates. For example, here at N2Growth, we identify and map various talent pools and actively seek out new talent pools, including considering experiences brought by candidates from adjacent industries.

Benefit 3: Confidentiality and becoming a trusted advisor

Your executive recruiting firm is far more than a professional hiring team. These consultants are your trusted advisor, helping you feel confident in your decision to partner with them for your most critical placements. Because of this, the top firms practice unwavering confidentiality for their search assignments.

What are the qualities to look for when partnering with an executive search firm?

Not all executive search firms are made equal, and in fact, there are some distinct qualities to look for when partnering with a best-in-class executive search firm.

Future-state focused

Industry-leading executive search firms understand that you’re not just looking to fill a role for your organization today. Instead, you’re searching for a powerfully additive leader who will contribute to the growth and future of your organization. These top executive search firms execute their executive search strategy with your future needs and goals as a driver.


Top-tier executive search partners do far more than work with you to fill seats. They become a collaborative partner by building a rich and deep relationship with you to act as an extension of your organization in the market. This relationship-centric approach allows your executive search partner to represent and enhance your employer brand while getting access to executives that otherwise might have been out of reach.


Your trusted executive search partner should work deeply to understand how your organization wants to solve business problems through talent. This involves understanding the outcomes the role will lead to versus only taking the role at face value based on the title. For example, N2Growth recommends exceptional leaders based on understanding the business problem that needs to be solved and the value this person brings to your organization.

N2Growth: A Differentiated Experience

Here at N2Growth, our unique and industry-leading approach to your executive search strategy is designed to drive your organization’s desired outcomes. Our candidate-sourcing techniques ensure that highly-qualified and hard-to-reach candidates become viable options. We conduct in-depth assessments and two-step screening before candidates are even introduced to you.

N2Growth is a proven, trusted advisor. We are transparent and collaborative, which is why we utilize N2Vue, the executive search industry’s most advanced engagement management engine. This system sets the standard for transparency and collaboration at every stage of our client experience.

N2Growth is also dedicated to supporting you during the interview phase, background checks, and even at the negotiation table. Following your executive placement, we provide continued transition support in the initial stages of your placement, offering partners a 12-month industry-leading guarantee.

The Importance of a Best-in-Class Executive Search Firm Partner

Your executive search strategy deserves the outcome-driven partnership that only a best-in-class executive search firm can bring to the table. Here at N2Growth, we are best known for our track record of handling highly confidential and complex Board, CEO and C-Suite retained search assignments with unmatched speed and precision.

Are you interested in a conversation on the connection between talent and value creation in your organization? Contact us today.

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Understanding Different Types of Retained Executive Search Firms and Why You Should Retain One https://www.n2growth.com/retained-executive-search-firms/ Tue, 11 Oct 2022 13:59:35 +0000 https://www.n2growth.com/?p=131351 When hiring new leaders, there are many options for organizations to consider when it comes to driving the best outcome […]

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When hiring new leaders, there are many options for organizations to consider when it comes to driving the best outcome and having a partner who can help solve business problems. A retained firm will partner with you in finding senior executives who can play a pivot role in your organization’s future success

Research done by Statista found that the executive search firm industry has more than doubled in size over the last decade due to increased demand for its solutions. The report noted that not only do 30% of top business leaders in the U.S. plan to increase their use of executive search firms, but another 52% are likely to use them for confidential searches.

Wondering if you should use a recruiter? To determine if this is the best route for your company, you’ll need to understand the different types of executive search firms and why you should retain one. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Retained Executive Search Firm?

Retained executive search is exclusive to the search firm, which means there will not be several agencies or any internal team members working on the recruitment while the retained search firm pursues qualified candidates.

The results typically lead to six fully qualified and highly skilled candidates on a first slate. At N2Growth, we iteratively source and stay in the market until a finalist candidate is found.

According to IBISWorld, the method known as retained search is becoming increasingly popular as the industry has experienced more than 1% growth over the last five years and is expected to experience growth of 4.8% in 2022 alone. This data further emphasizes the advantage companies are experiencing as more businesses either begin their partnership with retained executive search firms or increase their investments.

What is a Retained Search?

A retained search is a method known for its aggressive and proactive recruiting of passive candidates focused on a high probability of alignment with the role description. It’s a partnership between the client and firm, intent on placing executive leadership within suitable roles. The firm will actively reach out to potential candidates to engage them in the search.

The search is conducted throughout an array of sectors — including public, private, and non-profit — to ensure your company gets the best possible candidates for the role without the limitations of factors such as sector or employment status.

How does retained executive recruiting work?

With the demand for top-level executives at an all-time high, you need to understand how an elite boutique search firm can substantially improve your organization’s future. Here’s a rundown of what to expect.

  1. Meeting your team — by utilizing a personal approach, you’ll meet one-on-one with those handling the recruitment process. They’ll be able to garner your company’s culture and talent needs. There’s no question of the level of professionalism as the people you meet will be the ones handling direct contact with everyone involved in the process.
  2. Finding potential candidates — acting as an extension of your business, the firm will meet with prospective candidates to gauge how well they’ll fit into your environment. Thanks to data-driven efforts, you’ll know exactly where your company stands in the process. Every step of the way you’ll know who they interviewed and who looks like a good match to fill the position. They understand those who align with company values and culture stay longer and, according to one study, lead your company to 22% more improved performance results and a 16% boost in your reputation.
  3. Quality over quantity — larger firms value telling you their greatest strengths than showing them. Most focus on growing their numbers by presenting an expansive talent pool, often without reasoning behind their choices. With an elite executive recruiting firm, they have a transparent search process where you’ll gain access to real-time information coupled with a firm that has the agility to pivot if required.

Not only will you be kept up to date with every step of the recruitment process, but you can also rest assured that your company’s success takes precedence.

When should an executive search firm be retained?

While size isn’t an indicator of success, a boutique search firm is equipped with better resources and greater hands-on experience. They concentrate on obtaining top talent for senior-level and executive positions.

This includes:

  • Board Directors
  • Vice President
  • Senior Vice President
  • CEO
  • C-Suite: CAO, COO, CFO, CTO, etc.

While most companies seek an executive search firm when one of these positions becomes vacant due to a resignation or retirement, it is also common to respond significantly sooner. Maintaining an open dialogue with your search partner all year long allows the firm to go to market quickly when required.

That said, there are at least three cases in which a business contacts an executive search firm:

  1. The client company doesn’t have the resources to seek out C-level candidates.
  2. A client company has an ongoing open position they have not successfully filled and needs specialized assistance.
  3. A new role is available, and the client company requires an immediate search for the right candidate to drive strategic business outcomes as soon as possible.

Understanding the Difference Between Retained and Contingent Executive Search Firms

Retained search isn’t your only option when considering the type of executive search firm you want to work with for recruiting senior-level and executive talent. Another option is contingent, which in some ways, is almost the complete opposite of retained executive search firms.

Here are the major differences you need to know.

Retained Executive Search Firms

A retained executive search firm assigns a dedicated team of researchers and associates to work exclusively on a search until the capacity is filled. They’ll conduct bi-weekly meetings to update you on where they’re at in their efforts, including candidates they reached out to, their interest level, and a compensation analysis of each.

Along with consistent communication, N2Growth makes it a point to receive direct access to a specialized dashboard containing real-time statistics of the search, making it convenient to stay informed. Should a candidate decide to leave their position, a one-year guarantee ensures a replacement at no additional cost.

Contingent Executive Search Firm

A contingent executive firm prioritizes speed rather than quality. Normally, candidates are presented to the client and the firm will receive a fee only once the candidate is placed. This can lead to short-sightedness in the search process, and in some cases a mishire due to a lack of attention to quality.

There can also be a lack of comparison analytics, resulting in recruiters focusing on quantity over quality. They’re more centered on depicting a large talent pool rather than investing the time necessary in vetting candidates.

Since contingent recruiters work with multiple clients, they can easily become buried under overwhelming workloads resulting in strained communication. Most contingent firms aren’t able to give real-time updates to clients as to where they’re at in the process due to high workloads and limited resources. While this type of search may fit some executive roles, it isn’t a logical choice in cases where the role and talent require extra time to ensure they add to the culture versus just fitting in.

N2Growth: Ranked by Forbes as a Top Executive Search Firm

Finding the right candidate for leadership roles in your organization requires much more than any traditional search strategy used in the past. If you want exceptional leadership, you need a specialized search strategy to reach and resonate with them. At N2Growth, our executive search practice focus on Senior Executive, Board, and C-Suite searches. We understand what it takes to identify, attract, assess, and place the world’s best leaders – and develop them throughout their professional careers.

N2Growth was named Best Executive Recruiting Firm by Forbes for the sixth consecutive year. Contact us to learn more about retained executive search firms and how we can help you find the right candidate for your leadership position.

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Top Leading Executive Search Firms: Reasons to Use and How to Choose the Best One for You https://www.n2growth.com/leading-executive-search-firms/ Wed, 05 Oct 2022 20:30:38 +0000 https://www.n2growth.com/?p=131310 The post Top Leading Executive Search Firms: Reasons to Use and How to Choose the Best One for You appeared first on N2Growth.


Best-in-class organizations require best-in-class leaders because nothing impacts a company’s trajectory more than the people in executive positions. On the heels of unprecedented circumstances such as the global pandemic and the Great Resignation, companies need an elite, next-generation approach to filling these crucial executive roles, including executive, board, and C-suite positions. And the truth is that top-tier performers and ceiling-shattering disruptors who are technically, academically, and culturally additive to an organization aren’t going to walk in the front door. Instead, companies are turning to leading executive search firms to help them source one-to-one elite executive candidates and ensure they can cross the finish line with the selection process. 

What is an executive search firm? 

What exactly is a leading executive search firm, and how can it help businesses? Executive search firms serve companies looking to place executive, board, and C-suite positions, by identifying top-tier candidates who are well aligned to t the role. Executive search firms don’t simply post a job vacancy. They conduct a complex and precise talent search, identifying key candidates who are typically already employed in executive roles and aren’t actively seeking new employment. Executive search firms use their unique approach to assess their candidate pool, conduct a robust search process, and fill executive roles with game-changing leaders. 

Why do companies use executive search firms?

There are many reasons why companies choose to use leading executive search firms when they’re filling roles. Firstly, there is a growing global talent shortage across industries, and the demand for executives is far outstripping the supply, creating more pressure in an already highly competitive executive search environment. Companies often aren’t equipped to navigate these challenges on their own and, instead, turn to the expertise of executive search firms. 

Next, although executive hires can truly be make-or-break for an organization, studies reveal that about half of new executives hired are considered to fail in their role. Research shows that 15% of all CEOs leave within two years. Executive search firms mitigate this issue by finding “one-size-fits-one” matches for executive vacancies deemed to be the perfect fit for the role. 

Lastly, making an executive hiring mistake can be extremely costly in terms of direct and indirect costs. These costs might be related to time and resources allocated on that hire, plus the resources needed to conduct the hiring process yet again, along with the costs associated with leaving that role unfilled. Executive search firms work with speed and precision to make the hiring process as efficient as possible while bringing on a candidate who is the right hire from the get-go.

Executive Search Engagements

The best executive search firms will use data-driven methodologies to conduct a robust search process optimized for confidential and complex executive roles. They will also take a personalized approach, which can be extraordinarily detailed, allowing time and space for listening, connecting, coaching, and advising. Leading executive search firms also emphasize the current engagement (as opposed to cross-selling services). 

How do executive search firms work?

Leading executive search firms operate in very specific ways to find top leaders who can take a company to its desired future state. In general, they work by first deeply understanding a company and the executive role that will add value. Next, executive search firms identify key candidates by conducting a methodological search before matching the perfect fit for a company and role. 

While executive search firms have been around for decades, there’s been a recent, revolutionary shift in the ways executive search firms operate. Here’s a look at how executive search firms using more antiquated services function versus how forward-thinking, elite firms work.

The Old Way: Contingent Search Model

In a contingent search model, a recruiting agency receives payment after they’ve identified a candidate who is hired for the position. This can lead to a “quantity over quality” approach to candidates, without particular attention to reasons why one candidate would be a better fit than another. 

Another hallmark of this strategy is that while companies might see a lot of resumes, the best candidates can often go to clients who are paying the highest fees (which can reach 30%). Recruiters might also be inclined to let a company’s hiring managers bear the brunt of vetting with little transparency on why this candidate was even selected.

Typically with Contingent Search, recruiters will not give a client access to their database to see what is occurring in connection with their searches or what commentary is occurring with recruiters and candidates. Because these recruiters work with multiple clients, they also typically have overwhelming workloads, and clients likely will not receive exclusive focus, ensuring timely results for searches.

Lastly, if the search becomes tough (for instance, the agency is receiving no feedback from hiring managers), the contingent recruiter will typically focus their efforts on other searches, while the focus on the previous company slows to a crawl.

The Improved Way – Why N2Growth

Leading executive search firms have recently developed a progressive process that far outstrips what was previously “industry standard.” Here at N2Growth, we operate as a retained executive search firm. Our improved methodology plays the whole spectrum (from working with large companies to small firms with niche needs), enabling us to service both generalized and specific needs.

Clients typically retain N2Growth to identify current leaders. We reach out to highly-qualified passive candidates who are not actively looking for positions and are not part of an application process and market our clients’ opportunities to them. Our firm assigns a dedicated team of researchers and associates that work exclusively on that search until it’s 100% completed.

When companies partner with N2Growth, they get transparency, including bi-weekly meetings where updates are given on go-to-market activities on behalf of clients. These updates include information on companies, candidates that are being contacted, and their interest level, as well as competitive analysis. Candidates also get direct access to our proprietary N2Vue dashboard to see the status of the search engagement in real-time. 

Lastly, as human capital can be an unpredictable commodity, N2Growth provides a one-year guarantee on any candidate we place within your organization, replacing the leader if necessary at no additional cost.

How to Choose a Leading Executive Search Firm for You

While there are several executive search firms, including everything from incredibly large firms with prominent brand recognition, to boutique, well-resourced firms that take elite approaches. Here’s how you can choose the right leading executive search firm for your organization. 

Executive Search Consultants Who Understand the Market 

Today’s executive search market is incredibly dynamic, and it typically doesn’t reward the age-old mantra of “bigger is better.” In fact, in today’s executive search landscape (and the one of the future), better is simply better. This noisy, crowded executive recruitment market requires a personalized approach, with executive search consultants who assess a client’s unique needs and customize their approach accordingly. With that in mind, companies should look for executive search consultants who understand the market and who operate with a hands-on, better-resourced search process. 

At N2Growth, we use a “top-to-bottom” approach that offers clients extraordinary attention to detail, setting clients and candidates up for success on the first go-around, saving everyone valuable time, money, and energy.

Greater Access to Executive Talent (greater candidate pool) 

Regarding candidates, executive search firms have an ethical and contractual obligation not to recruit from client companies. Because large firms conduct business with so many organizations, they have significant hands-off limitations which severely restrict their recruiting strategies. This can result in thousands of candidates being deemed unavailable during a search. With this in mind, when choosing a leading executive search firm, companies should look for executive search firms with fewer constraints on their talent pool. 

Transparency in the Executive Search Process 

Transparency is not necessarily a guarantee in the executive search process. Many partners at large firms cannot describe their approach in detail and don’t adhere to an established methodology. That’s because it’s difficult to consistently execute a data-driven methodology with a large firm. Companies should consider transparency in the executive search process when looking for a leading executive search firm. Here at N2Growth, we have a transparent search application known as N2Vue, which gives clients 24/7 access to their entire pipeline with real-time reporting, data, and analytics.

Provides Board Advisory Solutions

Executive search needs go far beyond C-suite positions. Today, leading executive search firms understand how to fill other critical executive positions, such as boardroom positions. Today’s boardroom has never been under more scrutiny, and many boards are under pressure to provide strategic value and ensure the enterprise’s sustainability. Here at N2Growth, we specialize in different aspects of executive search. Our team has deep expertise in amplifying boards by helping them identify their needs, align their resources, lead in the present, and plan for the future.

Choosing the Executive Search Firm That Is Best for You

The leading executive search firms that are serving future-focused companies are not the same as the firms that are still using antiquated practices and “one-size-fits-all” approaches. Executive hires can be make-or-break for an organization, and in today’s hiring market, finding a game-changing leader is extremely challenging. To overcome the substantial obstacles and risks of the executive hiring process, companies can turn to elite,  leading executive search firms, which use their personalized approach and transparent search process to ensure positions are filled with the perfect candidate every time.

At N2Growth, we work differently to provide better outcomes for your executive talent needs. Like “the big firms,” we have significant horsepower and global reach. But unlike them, we use a bespoke approach and proprietary technology to focus on engagement and outcomes. 

Find out why N2Growth is continuously named one of America’s best executive search firms, and join Fortune 500 companies, leading private equity firms, fast-growing startups, and successful middle-market companies in selecting N2Growth as your preferred leadership and talent partner. Get in touch to learn about partnering with N2Growth.

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Executive Hiring For a P.E. Portfolio Company – Tangential Opportunity https://www.n2growth.com/executive-hiring-for-a-p-e-portfolio-company-tangential-opportunity/ Mon, 25 Jul 2022 09:00:13 +0000 https://www.n2growth.com/?p=129116 Part Four –Tangential Opportunity; a Balancing Act in P.E. Hiring In the previous three parts of this series, we realized […]

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Part Four –Tangential Opportunity; a Balancing Act in P.E. Hiring

In the previous three parts of this series, we realized the challenging factors around searching for and placing an ideal candidate to lead a private equity portfolio company.

This series’s final part will balance needs with compromises, float tangential opportunities to expand horizons, and extricate from myopia on that elusive ‘unicorn’ management candidate. Let’s get back into the scene again, and the bar is still set high. Dynamics at Private Equity firms are fast, aggressive, and all-conquering. As the investor leader, you are becoming more familiar with tackling senior leadership management issues at a newly acquired portfolio firm.  

Where to Expand the Search for Tangential Talent:

Beyond relaxing specific credential requirements, success may hinge on the ability to think laterally and search for candidates with tangential experience. A simple illustration perhaps is a CEO of a large injection molding firm, who might be well suited to a brewing and bottling company. Both are high-volume capital intense process industries. 

Direct Industry Experience:

Running in a close second place to past portfolio company experience, which I addressed in part two, is the importance of direct industry sector knowledge and expertise. The new CxO will be tasked to define and craft strategy, make investment proposals, and defend them, so they have depth in the related sector and a brain the size of an elephant. Certain functional leadership positions, and industry sectors, can be less strident on this question. The CFO candidate might get by with only a broad sector experience in manufacturing, finance, or technology.

From experience keeping an eye on a candidate’s knowledge of how a specific business model works are essential and non-negotiable. It is imperative to probe candidates into the delicate subtleties of your business, for instance, how return on capital is impacted by elements deep down in the production stage. A search partner with industry knowledge is critical.

Sales and marketing positions appear to provide broader sector hunting grounds, but reality can be different, and there are still many constraints. A consultative conversation with your search firm might underline that the role requires experience such as:

  • A sales professional with strategic thought
  • An ability to distillate your firm’s value proposition
  • Knowledge of the customer base 
  • The ability to bring new key accounts to the table immediately
  • Familiarity with your product with a finger on the competition
  • Experience leading a large regional team

Establishing clarity around these requirements instantly locks the search into an ever-narrowing set of industry credentials.

Make an honest assessment of the complexity of your portfolio company business model and value proposition, size of business, size of an organization, and sales process before you lock into tight parameters for the role. Don’t be guilty of overinflating a business’s uniqueness, and discard how outsiders may be able to adapt. That said, a candidate, for example, with an excellent technical background, will be able to learn a product or service and, as a reality check, potentially in less time than finding a perfect insider who comes from a competitor.

P.E. Hiring, Think Tangentially:

The ideal candidate may not materialize from a traditional CEO profile, meaning their resume might look different from expected. Compromises can include not being business school all-stars or even graduates. Perhaps they started careers in a very different environment, for example, a well-traveled photojournalist or even a failed technology entrepreneur. 

You will subconsciously know when a candidate is CEO material. It is not the tick boxes on their experience competence list or past successes, in so much as how right out of the box they radiate confidence and a sense of charisma – which does not mean they are extroverts, bull-nosed, or quiet; they simply exude ‘presence.’

Whatever credential candidates hold, they will likely be trench fighters with soft skills and charisma to lead and dilute egos. They may have faced numerous setbacks, and have stories of mistakes, although they probably have a fast-moving resume and quick ascension once they found their calling. These are healthy ingredients for success in a portfolio company.

Although tangential compromises are available at a functional pinnacle, recognize that a senior executive candidate with the requisite years of experience will have broad traits baked in hard. You will find it difficult to move between functional management roles. If the position is operational, hire an operations manager and a finance head.  

Tangentially other roles that have required strong leadership but might not have been a CEO in your specific sector can be trawled; a ship’s captain, a military leader, a dean of the school.

What is becoming more prevalent today is ensuring that a candidate is entirely digitally conversant. They don’t need to know to code, but they need to understand how coding can change their business, evaluate solutions, and be well versed in what’s happening in information and technology. Facebook proficiency does not qualify. Move beyond lower age barriers.

Series Summary and Move Ahead:

The above discussion, and parts one, two, and three, endeavor to underline that in many instances, a search for candidates can be moved tangentially and compromises made to the ideal. Hiring from a close competitor or another portfolio company will plug a gap with a competent leader, but simply recycling known candidates may give at best similar lackluster performance to competitors. Meanwhile, the timeline to find an ideal portfolio company candidate could be unacceptable. It may be better to focus on someone less tied up in the constraints of an industry and more motivated to apply new thought leadership to create – excuse the cliché – breakthrough performance.

Realize that P.E. hiring for a portfolio company is not just competing against others but competing against all sectors to attract exceptional talent. The right candidate will likely be a risk-taker; they won’t be successful if they’re not successful.

Build a relationship with an executive search partner who understands your portfolio business model and has uncanny assessment nouse. They know where niche talent resides and can call upon a global network of partners with deep sectoral, geographical, and technological areas of expertise. A reputable firm like N2Growth will make all the difference. Those who can navigate through compromise and think tangentially are crucial.

Lastly, don’t have your ‘ace’ candidate guessing motives, objectives, and exit plans. And similarly, once on board, don’t set goals in a vacuum. Fantasy land won’t help your new hire in the development, communication, transformation, and run of the business inside your portfolio company. The more you can share where you want to be, the more they can align and drive towards the same goals. The position is for a mature and professional leader who will move towards your aspirations and find that right fulcrum in the balance to meet achievable goals.

Evaluations take time to surface compatible candidates, and comprehensive assessment tools would be invaluable to reveal significant personality traits, how the candidate might perform under pressure, and whether their goals overlap nicely with the role.

Search and onboarding the best possible CxO leader is critical to achieving your projected growth but don’t forget to enable their success. It’s likely your organization has access to mature development and talent tools to support your new best friend. Equally, your search consultant can further reinforce development, so engage them to follow up actively with leadership development.

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CPG Hiring Trends https://www.n2growth.com/cpg-hiring-trends/ Fri, 08 Jul 2022 13:21:09 +0000 https://www.n2growth.com/?p=128768 The evolution of new technologies and the COVID-19 pandemic have greatly influenced consumer habits worldwide, consumers are becoming more demanding, […]

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The evolution of new technologies and the COVID-19 pandemic have greatly influenced consumer habits worldwide, consumers are becoming more demanding, and companies are working on efficiencies to offset the negative impact of inflation on their P&Ls. Leaders are working on efficiencies to offset these challenges. This article will examine how new technologies, consumer habits, and the pandemic have influenced consumer expectations, how companies are working to meet changing consumer expectations, and CPG hiring trends today.

After hundreds of interviews with fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) professionals, N2Growth identified the following trends:

  • Consumers seek moments of happiness to escape reality and relieve the stress of the pandemic and the Ukrainian invasion. Many brands focus their marketing strategies on out-of-home consumption, socializing with friends and family, and humor to generate engagement.
  • In contrast, although consumers look for optimistic messages, the economic, health, and geopolitical situation does not allow excess. Companies try to relativize negative emotions and convey that there can be something constructive within the bad.
  • Customers demand a real commitment to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) from companies and brands. Customers value brands that protect the environment are committed to their communities and have transparent corporate governance.
  • Omnichannel: consumers have become accustomed to shopping online and increasingly value eCommerce’s convenience and personalized shopping experience. At the same time, they continue to appreciate the advantages of the shopping experience and the immediacy provided by the various retail environments.
  • Today’s consumers distrust some traditional brands that do not demonstrate a clear value proposition, labeling, innovativeness, and commitment to the environment.

Now that we’ve identified the trends, let’s focus our attention on specific business problems to be solved by the addition of senior leadership talent in the consumer packaged goods space.

How common is it for CPGs to hire for key positions outside the industry?

It is becoming increasingly common for CPGs to hire critical positions outside the industry. With a shift toward the importance of digitization, technical and analytical skills. Physical skills are steadily declining as automation technologies become more advanced. As the CPG space evolves through extraordinary advances in technology and data analytics, finding candidates with the skill set required to succeed as executives in new omnichannel delivery models requires recruiters to think out of the box to cast a wider net outside of traditional CPG roles for candidates. We see some of the best candidates coming from startups and thinking first about mobile technology, automated supply chain management, and data analytics. This has enabled a vital e-commerce channel infrastructure with retail stores implementing a “click and collect” delivery model.

Is this something you’re seeing happen more often?

The next generation of CPG leadership must anticipate connecting better with consumers, investing in the right technologies and business models, and using culture to spark innovation and growth. In a tight talent landscape, with increasing AI-driven automation, they’ll be tasked with building teams and cultures that can adapt and thrive in a quickly evolving environment. More clients’ opportunities require executives with social and emotional skills and higher-level cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity. Aware of these key industry trends, Recruiters will create a significant competitive advantage by better targeting the most qualified candidates, creating a compelling employer value proposition, and drastically reducing their time to fill.

Why or why not?

The ability to “think small and local” must be balanced with the global vision of a large CPG company. Leaders on the fast-track to CEO may come from varied backgrounds, but more and more, having both regional general manager tenures and experience in global category management leaves them better equipped to lead global CPG companies. The CEO of the future is going to have a broader experience than the current CEO. We are looking for leaders who are equally comfortable being a GM, running a factory, understanding essential raw material origins, and working in different functions. Future CEOs must build authentic relationships with stakeholders and create value for the business and society. Agility is key.

This means CPG employees like brand managers need to understand marketing data from multiple sources to geotarget and personalize coupons and loyalty program offerings, especially for frequently purchased products, often in real-time. This new class of CPG employees needs to be skilled in communication, relationship building, and product knowledge and be technologically knowledgeable, data literate, and culturally sensitive.

Do you expect this trend (whichever way you see it) to continue? Why or why not?

That ground-level attention and agility in operations must also be met with an eye “in the cloud” — meaning that the CPG CEO of the future is digitally savvy and capable of using data to take the company in the direction the consumer is going. The role of a CPG CEO has always required a deep curiosity about consumers. With a focus on thoughtful use of data and technology, balanced with an agile startup mindset and a more open culture of collaboration, the new CPG CEO will have the foresight and insight to speak to consumers on a highly personal level. As the nature of CPG companies evolves to adapt to more sophisticated consumer expectations, advancing digital and data technologies, and increased competition from startups and smaller companies, tomorrow’s leaders will be feet-on-the-ground disruptors with both the vision and skills to see beyond traditional products and organization archetypes.

CPG leaders must be comfortable thinking digitally, creatively, and on their feet. The latter is perhaps more critical. Even if digital savviness is not there, they know where to go and how to get it if you have the right CEO. But you can’t just bring in a great digitally experienced leader as CEO. Instead, look to what extent they have changed the paradigm in their business decisions in the past and new and disruptive things they’ve done. That ability to change the paradigm quickly will differentiate the CPG CEO of the future. Next-gen CEOs will likely require the technological backbone and inherent creativity to lead something transformational. CEOs must have the intellectual curiosity and courage to take charge of enacting change.

I’ve also heard the opposite is true. That CPG executives tend to get poached by other industries. Is that something you’re seeing? If so, what can CPGs do to protect against it?

Circling back to the idea of “thinking like a startup,” nothing is more important than the culture that leaders foster. That culture must welcome agility, stripped as much as possible of the bureaucracy that is no longer an asset to any enterprise. Succession planning must be baked into the strategy. Companies will poach executives across many industries that unveil a successful formula. At N2Growth, we relish working with startups and more seasoned companies to help their boards and leadership think comprehensively about a succession plan that makes the transition from one executive to another smoother and more seamless. Finally, any CEO not putting culture at the center of their strategy is missing a massive opportunity to create an internal groundswell that can be felt rippling through the industry. “Never underestimate that a small group of people can change the world; it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead’s words are never more true.

What do you look for when building your roster of CPG candidates for clients?

We look for a broad range of CEO candidates from various industries. Still, more importantly, we look for leaders with the following characteristics: entrepreneurial, growth-oriented, emphatic about value, globally-minded, locally connected, inclusive, disruptive, data-driven, experimental, curious, agile, and transformational.

What’s next for CPG Hiring?

We believe the next generation of CPGs hires must anticipate how to better connect with consumers by investing in the right technologies and business models. The future CEO will have broad experience across industries, unlike many current Chief Executive Officers, and CPG leaders must be very comfortable thinking digitally, creatively, and on their feet.

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Executive Hiring for a P.E. Portfolio Company – The Unicorn https://www.n2growth.com/executive-hiring-for-a-p-e-portfolio-company-the-unicorn/ Tue, 21 Jun 2022 11:00:04 +0000 https://www.n2growth.com/?p=128300 Part Three – The Challenge of Finding the Unicorn Executive The third part of this four-part private equity executive hiring […]

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Part Three – The Challenge of Finding the Unicorn Executive

The third part of this four-part private equity executive hiring series acknowledges the challenge of finding and identifying a ‘unicorn executive’ to lead your portfolio-invested company.

In case you missed it, part one looked at the essential and unique constituents of an ideal candidate’s profile in terms of hard credentials, and soft credentials in part two.  Part four will explore a balance between needs with compromises, float tangential opportunities to expand horizons, and correspondingly extricate from myopia on that elusive ‘unicorn’ management candidate. This will be the final chapter of this series.

The dynamics at private equity firms are fast, aggressive, and all-conquering. Without a doubt, this is a difficult search, and surface compromise is essential. You will explore the ideals of openness and justification for a compromise; and how these impact the successful conclusion of senior executive hiring.

Then, There Is the Challenge – Look Into the Fight Ring.

Part one examined necessary hard and soft credentials, particularly unique requirements demanded from a portfolio company executive. There are two big fences subsequently to jump and to secure that ‘unicorn’, the pure credentials fit, and the interest and motivation of a candidate to join your portfolio company.

The depth of talent in a newly acquired portfolio company often tends to be far from what was agreed upon during deal negotiations. Key functional areas might have no leader, resources are limited, and perhaps there are too many non-performers who had ridden on the previous owner’s shirt tails. CEOs have to plug gaps and deal with the impact of change quickly. But who has had this change experience – other than a CEO with portfolio company experience.

CxO candidates might possess extensive credentials in managing a multibillion-dollar division. Still, when faced with running a few hundred million dollar firm, they may not fare well when required to ‘hands-on’ manage most aspects of a business. A large MNC divisional CxO could well have been surfing long-term curves and delivered only small incremental change, part of a bigger universe of decision making. On the other hand, private equity requires that they make decisions that will have a material impact on their business.

Coincidentally these are good reasons why candidates might turn down what they’d see as a risky step in the first place. Equally at the other end of the scale, a small enterprise leader’s depth of experience, even a tech founder, likely won’t measure up to the expectations of a private equity company with significant growth designs.

Does the old asset strip style and reputation still permeate people’s thinking of private equity? It’s uncertain, but the industry’s reputation still points toward a higher-risk environment. The right candidate will be interested in taking on challenges and rewards through different motivators.

Interest and motivation can be tested early in the search phase, matching agendas or otherwise highlighted. The hiring team has to square with a candidate on their expectations, but a trusted search firm can go deeper and evaluate responses to various scenario plays. Consultants can test a candidate’s response to how the role may play out, the personalities of the hirer, and how green the grass really is. Naturally, throughout the process, this assessment is concurrent to maintaining a candidate’s interest level high.

Making Concessions Without Compromise

While working on your portfolio company executive search, start with a proper assessment of the challenge ahead. With that in mind, you must make an honest evaluation of search parameters that will be out of bounds and those that can be adjusted or compromised. This is not simply about eliminating the ‘like to have’ or ‘preferred’; it’s about how to open the search field and compensate with other talent credentials to guarantee a timely, successful search and onboarding.

First, Agree on Where to Compromise

Too often, sticking obstinately to a wants to list with your search partner wastes time and effort, a scenario that plays out frequently. An overly assertive hiring manager lays down the profile, culture, and must-haves; a job description is shared and honed, and the search firm charges ahead, having understood all the written and spoken nuances of the role. The search consultant may realize there will be a challenge, but they head into the process confidently, or at worst, to give it a go, without disclosing real concerns or red flags from the onset. Sometimes, a fear is that exhibiting anything less than affirmative may lose the deal.

After two or three rounds, months have dragged by, and the unicorn has not been found. There’s then typically a discussion about compromises, which might be ‘does a candidate need to come from the same type of competitor,’ or ‘do they have to have a certain level of seniority.’ The answer is usually along the line of ‘well, let’s open up the field to….’ But now, your search consultant will have to revisit the potential list or start again with a few new or eliminated parameters.

It is productive to short circuit this painful scenario and have an honest discussion at kickoff to explore in detail what might be viewed as overly inflated credentials, those that requirements can be relaxed, or maybe elements that don’t matter at all but were cut and pasted in without thought.

The portfolio company head is a complex, difficult search that has been established; it’s not a process that necessarily has to happen for regular hiring. In the private equity company world, to make these concessions might require moving aside certain egos and bravado but significantly filtering the wishlist and giving reality plenty of air time.

Portfolio Company Experience

The quintessential first question on a compromise will be whether or not to have past private equity portfolio company experience; is it essential, or what compensating factors might there be? We have looked at some core tenants for the role; a candidate must demonstrate a massive capacity for building, transformation, adaptability, communication, and resilience. Ultimately faced with a long and challenging search, square away with your search partner on the need for experience from the outset, and avoid being obstinate to trawl vainly for the elusive catch.

If a candidate doesn’t have a past portfolio company ‘feather in their cap,’ look for personality ingredients that will allow them to learn fast and accept a whole new world of private equity-owned business. Incidentally, having portfolio company experience in any position might not be a panacea in your own company’s situation. For instance, a unique business may prioritize specific product/service knowledge rather than a portfolio company background – think tech firms playing a new game.

With or without portfolio company experience, a candidate must demonstrate clear cognizance of private equity company investment and divestment decision-making, the dynamics of turning a strategy into practice, and how to interface between employees, private equity company management, and boards. They must understand how this clock ticks and how a private equity company looks at business.

In a high-stakes, high expectations, and fast-moving portfolio company environment, is it realistic to settle for a humble consensus leader whose character likely doesn’t match your stereotype? As with any tangential candidate, your assessment must place all traits on the scales. The final decision will be heavily influenced by personality compatibility with you and your private equity company management team.

In part four, the last chapter of this series, I will identify means to disengage from a fixed mindset, explore ways to think tangentially and bring a search to a successful conclusion.

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Executive Hiring For a P.E. Portfolio Company – Soft Skills https://www.n2growth.com/executive-hiring-for-a-p-e-portfolio-company-soft-skills/ Tue, 31 May 2022 11:00:45 +0000 https://www.n2growth.com/?p=127792 Part Two – Core, Soft Credential Constituents In the second part of this series, we will continue this theme on […]

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Part Two – Core, Soft Credential Constituents

In the second part of this series, we will continue this theme on executive hiring for a private equity portfolio company by examining parallel soft skill essentials and core, soft credential constituents.

In case you missed it, please see part one of this series on P.E. portfolio company hiring, highlighting portfolio company executive core credentials and diving into hiring assessment essentials in terms of hard skills.

Parts three and four will explore openness and justification for a rationale of compromise on credentials and how this impacts a timely and successful conclusion of senior executive hiring. Consideration will explore a balance between needs with compromises, tangential opportunities to expand horizons, and correspondingly extricate from myopia on that elusive ‘pink giraffe’ management candidate.

Again, the bar is set high as the investor leader, and private equity firms’ dynamics are fast, aggressive, and all-conquering. You are tasked with tackling senior leadership management issues at a newly acquired portfolio firm. In this four-part series, a realization of the challenging factors surrounding the search for ideal candidates will be recognized. The focus is on meeting unique private equity performance demands but will often square the circle for many senior executive traits.

1. Finding a New Executive Leader With Demanding Requirements

You’re not happy with your current CxO level management team. You feel the executive is hindering progress, having crafted their experience 20 years ago. Your investment is a tangled web of interrelated human wheels and cogs. The most complex of all to manage is people, which entails heavy lifting from a soft skill standpoint. Adding a new CxO will potentially create instability in a firm that has perhaps relied on generations of insiders or even a contemporary start-up mercurial leader in harnessing the company. Your confidence in management rejuvenation may be waning after all the politics, personalities, and history rears their ugly heads. Having determined that new talent is essential, there are significant calls to make to locate and secure them.

2. Confidently Compromising on Ideals

First and foremost, you must have the core characteristics of the ideal profile nailed down. It is not simple to transcribe that the CEO ‘must be a leader.’ It is potentially complex to transpose ideas into a bullet list of soft skills. While deriving a non-compromise competence checklist, take a look at the basics for your private equity sector. This instance focuses on a handful of core demands specific to portfolio companies, aligned to soft skill talents.

3. The Soft Skills

We covered hygienic and hard-skill credentials in the first part of this series; soft skills are arguably the most critical focus area. Jeffrey Cohn, and J.P Flaum, surveyed and interviewed the managing partners of 32 private equity firms (including Blackstone, Carlyle, KKR, and Silver Lake) about their CEO search process and how it has changed over time. “Among the surprises: Executives said they’ve learned to pay less attention to attributes such as track record and experience (the criteria typically most prized by recruiters), and gave more weight to softer skills.” HBR June 2016

“Executives said they’ve learned to pay less attention to attributes such as track record and experience and gave more weight to softer skills.” Harvard Business Review, June 2016

There are essential soft skill-sets more pertinent to managing a portfolio company. A number may only surface through deep dive executive assessments that will require intuition and personality evaluations supported by your executive search partner.

The prospective CxO will have a leadership presence, which is hard to quantify. For example, when you speak with a candidate, they seem to have that special sparkle and intensity that sets them apart, with charisma and thought leadership. You might feel humbled in their presence, with their persona and verbal skills. You may even find it challenging to keep up with their conversation; they’re so quick and lucid,’ I don’t even know what they’re talking about.’ The profile does not require a defacto overconfident extrovert, many candidate personalities can accommodate identifiable presence, but it is necessary to harness a portfolio organization and inspire confidence. ‘Presence’ will support other talents to transform an existing workforce largely through communication. Finding this is a style and culture assessment. Your executive search consultant’s instinct and evaluations will help.

Investors are tremendously experienced in their respective business sectors. Influential executives will be able to work with an active owner. Candidates will need to show an aptitude to work with an investor lead and possibly many overseers. If not, their advisors will be with strong customer and business contacts and financial expertise to get the best out of the company. Having led a multibillion-dollar division in a large structured conglomerate may not provide a rich experience for a candidate who will work with a highly active and knowledgeable ‘in your face’ owner.

Equally, prospective chemistry between the CxO and a deal owner requires exploration. This probing on respect, communications style, vocabulary, language, and shared values relies heavily on your consultant’s instinct to mitigate bias. To do this, the search partner will also require an assessment of the deal owner’s personality. Both are likely to be opinionated and not lacking in ego. Indeed, both are out in the top right corner.

People assessment sits near the top of requisite skill set priorities for a new executive. Assessment skills are required in abundance while moving a company through anticipated transformation and growth. Senior leaders have likely experienced many regular global re-organizations within a multinational. But did they tackle change in a small or medium-sized enterprise, possibly where staff has 20 or 30 years tenure, and one or two key individuals carry its weight? Imagine a private equity company investor commenting, for example, “are you sure Joe is up to the task? He seems to me to be very quiet”? Surety in evaluation is a must.

A mental aptitude to multi-task competing priorities is essential, and to make decisions rapidly; the 80:20 leader will thrive rather than a big business planner. Similarly, the candidate will possess clarity in the face of multiple demands and correspondingly toughness to recover from inevitable setbacks. Ultimately, the candidate will be a decision-maker and have proven most decisions were correct. What happened when the candidate was up to their neck in a swamp? How have they behaved in the past while extracting their business from downturns?

With a tightly supervised portfolio firm, the CxO will be able to provide and be comfortable with a more open-book approach with the board and, incidentally, expertise and confidence in sharing both good and bad news. When the CxO feels tasks are their responsibility and would opinion “let me get on with my job,” they will demonstrate an equanimity to handle investor involvement. This will include temperament to field calls frequently and not take criticism or negativity personally.

In a similar vein, ideal prospects will show resilience to handle contention, knowing how to balance a fulcrum between taking orders and operating in a vacuum. All leaders appreciate the challenge, but private equity company investors are savvy and will see through smoke and mirrors. Bluster and big generalities won’t pass muster. Underpinning much of this is an underlying sense of urgency, which can be observed in the manner of the candidate. Those who are slow on the uptake will likely be eliminated.

Well-placed questions on soft skills will quickly surface vulnerability pointers. CEO-level managers usually don’t hide their personality, preferring to be clear about their views and how they work. Evaluations take time to surface compatible candidates, and assessment will go beyond typical competency match interviews.

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Two Executive Personality Traits To Focus On As An Effective Leader https://www.n2growth.com/executive-personality-traits/ Mon, 23 May 2022 15:12:46 +0000 https://www.n2growth.com/?p=127600 “Self Awareness” Does Your Potential Executive Hire Have It? Each year I debrief leadership assessment results with hundreds of C-Suite […]

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“Self Awareness” Does Your Potential Executive Hire Have It?

Each year I debrief leadership assessment results with hundreds of C-Suite candidates as an Executive Coach & Consultant at N2Growth. Assessments are an excellent tool for understanding a candidate’s self-awareness regarding their personality traits and help identify how one is “naturally inclined” to act, based on five inherent attributes evaluated and measured.

Recently I ran across a recent study published in the American Psychological Association Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that made me think about the connections between being a successful C-Suite executive and having positive cognitive health. The research found that those inclined to stress easily (high neuroticism), and an unorganized mindset (low conscientiousness), are associated with a negative impact on health. These two facets are critical in managing our overall health and how effectively we perform in a specific role, regardless of our position in the organization.

Self-awareness is critical for growth as an executive leader. The willingness to acknowledge areas we must improve and grow is imperative in personal and professional development. Neuroticism, defined as the ability to deal with stress and setbacks in a resilient or reactive way, and conscientiousness are two traits we assess and measure that impact one’s ability to be self-aware. We must focus on this because it directly affects the ability to recognize shortfalls and improve performance as a leader.

Of the five traits, it is undeniable that neuroticism is dually and equally important in both professional and personal life. Resilient beings are typically calm and self-assured. They rebound quickly after setbacks or criticism. They are confident in their ability to cope with crises and tend to focus on solutions rather than issues. On the flip side, people who score toward the reactive side of the scale tend to act emotionally and worry continuously, focussing more on issues rather than solutions. In addition, they tend to take criticism personally, reacting with outward irritation and emotion. As a result, self-doubt in their abilities occurs when problems arise, shaking their self-confidence and taking some time to get back on track.

When conducting my assessment debrief, I pay close attention to where the candidate falls on this scale. I assist the candidate in defining where they fall within these traits and coach them on their self-awareness of both positive and negative emotions as an executive affecting their professional maturity.

Another of the five traits leading to an executive’s success refers to the level of focus of an individual, which is known as conscientiousness. This category has five sub-facets: perfectionism, organization, drive, concentration, and methodicalness.

People with low conscientiousness tend to have little care for details and switch their attention easily between different tasks, accepting results containing imperfections. However, people with high conscientiousness plan and structure with foresight and attention to detail, setting challenging and ambitious goals for themselves.

Assessments coupled with performance coaching are shown to improve how one deals with stress, and becomes more organized and focused, on understanding an individual’s inherent behavior traits pertaining to leadership. Assessing talent is only the tip of the iceberg in how organizations can utilize powerful assessment tools to identify an executive’s potential for new roles and retainment for healthy and productive for years to come. As a coach, my goal is to identify and leverage data on certain behaviors in executives to maintain long-term happiness, health, and productivity.

What is your experience with assessments and psychometric tools to enhance self-awareness and improve performance?

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