1st Executive Blog

22 Feb Executive Search and Finding Potential

We recently identified in a blog piece five external factors that would influence Executive Search in 2021. What is clear today is that what businesses need from C-Suite executives has changed.

As we mentioned in that earlier piece, change and transformation were critical issues already and that immediately before the coronavirus pandemic, Digital Transformation was something of a buzzword. We all know that the pandemic has accelerated the use of digital solutions in businesses out of necessity.

Transformation is now a much broader discipline and goes to the heart of leaders understanding what is needed to make change successful.

In our advisory network, Mindshop International, Founder and Chairman Dr Chris Mason published his Change Success research and model several years ago now. It addresses the 10 factors that are needed for change initiatives to succeed based around the three pillars of Readiness, Capability and Beliefs. As we move into the post Covid world, this model is an extremely valuable reference tool for executives.


It is clear though that when Executive Search consultants are looking for top performers who are capable of managing change and transformation in 2021 and beyond, that there will be a need for a combination of skills and mindsets that are being driven together by the change that is going on in our world.

Arguably, the foundation of all of these skills is what we would refer to as a global mindset. Here, executive search consultants will not be looking for the experiences a CEO has had with “globalisation” but rather a systemic understanding of the world in which they operate as individuals and as business leaders. The world has changed. If you doubt that, a simple reference to a comment by Bill Gates this February, in which he suggested that managing the pandemic would be easy compared to managing climate change, will put you straight.

The capacity of business leaders to make well-being a priority represents a very significant shift in C Suite accountability. It would be right to interpret this as well-being for the world in which we live as well as the people whom we employ in our little part of it. The understanding of what is truly important should guide businesses into the future and being able to see the microcosm of that in people’s lives is going to be critical. On a very practical level, right now, we are seeing businesses with well-being budgets which are attributed as a cost, on a dollars per head basis.

The Executive Search profession also needs to find leaders wo are very capable when it comes to ambiguity. For too long people’s desire to work from home at least some of the time has been seen as a potential escape from responsibility and somehow cheating on the organisation. As working from home has become the norm in the last year and full-scale returns to office work look uncertain to say the least, a new mindset is required here.


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In our executive search work we have already spoken to business leaders who have identified that people who are productive in the office are more productive at home and people who were not so productive in the office are even a less productive at home. The ability of a leader to identify this, introduce appropriate accountability and act on poor performance while being true to his or her principles of systemic well-being is a very subtle skill set indeed.

Executive search consultants also need to identify leaders who understand that working from home can create feelings of isolation or even loneliness and so the need to create a culture that people want to belong to is even more marked. Our profession will also need to be able to interview deeply and thoroughly on skills such as resilience, emotional intelligence and social responsibility. The ability of leaders to inspire people and organisations to reinvent themselves and their missions more frequently than they have ever done before will be a gold standard.

The temptation to create rules will need to be tempered with wisdom, with youthful enthusiasm for technology, the ability to look forwards and to take coaching skills to a new level.

Of course, the chances that the skills and mindsets are well-developed now even amongst the most experienced of chief executives and other C Suite leaders is a fairly remote possibility. For executive search practitioners, being able to identify the inner qualities that demonstrate high levels of potential to develop these skills, these cultures and these mindsets will be what hiring organisations will pay for.