1st Executive Blog

22 Sep 7 New Executive Search Trends

Despite the impact of the global pandemic, in developed economies employment has held up extraordinarily well. While there is no doubt that certain industries, hospitality and travel particularly, have been very badly affected many other industries have continued to thrive. Infrastructure projects continue apace, general construction seems to be booming, primary Industries-whether they be taking things from the ground or growing things in the ground continue to do well and services continue to thrive.

In executive search and recruitment developed economies are also seeing significant talent shortages which, usually, is an indicator of healthy economies. However, it’s no time to be complacent. It’s an inescapable truth that migration has slowed dramatically and in my country, Australia, it has come to an almost complete standstill. The impact of an economy not receiving an influx of skilled labour, no recent germination of careers that comes from the healthy engagement of foreign students in domestic universities and some people just giving up, along with ageing populations means that employment may not be as healthy as it seems.

However, the executive search profession and executives themselves are caught up in and sometimes embracing a variety of new trends. We have identified six here and there are no doubt many more.

 

1. Hybrid Working

In many ways this starts with the executive search and recruitment profession itself, where for many, the face-to-face interview is now something that we vaguely remember doing. There is much more interaction via online video calls which is resulting in more candidates being reviewed more quickly for key roles.

The executives themselves, are moving into a world where it is not just their sales and service teams that are distributed geographically, but possibly their entire executive teams. Many will be attending meetings online, some will come into the office and the office itself is likely be more of a meeting place in place of work.

 

2. Flexibility

Flexible working is something that will significantly challenge the delegation skills of executives. It is inevitable that, in pursuit of productivity and work life balance at the same time, that there will be endless ongoing dialogues about the extent to which teams can work from anywhere at any time with the possibility that constraints may be created around either of those dimensions. This could mean being able to be in the office at any time, or being anywhere during normal working hours.

 

3. Preferences and Productivity

The preferences and productivity challenge is going to involve a combination of the need for collaboration around disciplines such as strategy planning, team management, innovation and marketing. If you add to that whole variety of employee preferences that the leaders found by executive search firms are going to need to exhibit extraordinary agility between their energy, focus, coordination and cooperation. This creates a whole new set of competencies that the executive search consultant needs to investigate during sourcing.

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4. Managing by Technology

While technology has developed an essential role in team communication and collaboration, it is already moving into the next stage. Executive search consultants will need to assess how capable an executive is of handling performance management and KPIs, training and coaching, strategy development and even interaction with consultants on global technology platforms while remaining connected to the team. 

 

5. Systemic Change and Transformation

Systemic change and transformation is likely to be the biggest event in town for the next few years. In the past, executive search interviews may have included discussions around change management and the necessary skill sets to define and implement change. The historical issue, is that such change existed in a fairly consistent paradigm. Moving forward, it will be a real challenge for executive search to begin to understand to what extent an experienced business leader is able to let go of many of his or her past experiences in order to allow all of the future state potential to be accepted for consideration. Understanding this, how the individual and the enterprise fits into such a massive change movement is going to be a real challenge for executive search consultants.

 

6. The New PC

Briefly, and a little more light heartedly, we have seen online etiquette evolve. With many professionals faced with a combination of being locked down at home, trying to manage home schooling if there are school-age children at home and also often living with a partner who is also locked down and working from home, much of the formality has disappeared from the online meeting experience. We are just as likely to see team members entertaining others with evermore creative virtual backgrounds and an understanding of the reality that, the cat, the dog or the children may make guest appearances in online meetings from time to time. Thankfully, we all seem a little more relaxed about that.

 

7. Source Diversity and Manage Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion has been a challenge for leadership for some time. There seems to be a growing understanding that Diversity requires a recruitment solution and that managing the assembly of a diverse and high quality professional team can present challenges even if these are just based on demography. It’s also dawning on leadership that inclusion is a management process, you can add diversity to a team but the team needs to embrace it. If you add that to the six trends discussed earlier then you start to get a sense of just where the executive leadership skill set is headed

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