How to Hire Great Leaders in a Competitive Market

Director, Matthew Evans recently sat down with In House Recruitment and Thomas International to discuss challenges and share their top tips for hiring great leaders in this competitive market.

Leaders in organisations can have an effect on a multitude of area, including performance, culture, morale and business reputation. A regular debate often surrounds which of these factors is the most important, but as Kira van Nierkerk from Thomas International so aptly put it “Bad performance is often a symptom of poor culture, morale and leadership style”. This means we need to move away from the old style of management from 10-20 years ago where leadership KPI’s were often focussed on their team members’ performance, but instead have leaders who have increased self-awareness and have good emotional intelligence.

So what makes a good leader? Based on the discussion, there were a few standout attributes:

  • Ambiguity Acceptance: Things aren’t as black and white as they perhaps once were, and leaders need to be comfortable with this high level of uncertainty. Peterson and Hicks (1996) defined ambiguity acceptance as being “related to an open attitude towards new ideas, multiple solutions, and diverse perspectives in decision making and collaboration.”
  • Adaptability: Teams are often composed of such a diversity of people, who thrive under different styles of leadership and communication. The ability to adapt your own leadership style gives you the ability to flex different styles of leadership and get the most out of your team.
  • Self-Awareness: You can teach someone to do a role, but to lead effectively you need to be self-aware and be able to reflect inwards. Having an awareness of your own impact and perception can help you more effectively provide what it is your team needs.

When it comes to the hiring process itself, ­we discussed three key areas to consider when looking to hire great leaders:

  1. Engage with multiple stakeholders at the start to understand role requirements. It is important at the start of every recruitment process to begin with internal reflection; to have a robust conversation in order to define what the missing ingredient in the team is. It is often healthy to have a debate about the Job Description and really get to the bottom of what it is the group is looking for.
  2. Look beyond skillsets and understand behavioural fit. We believe there has been a change from ‘looking for experience’ to ‘being able to discuss their experiences’. Often you can find a candidate who, on their CV, has a great number of years work experience and some good job titles under their belt, however when you get down to it the various experiences they have had can be limited. There is still an importance that needs to be placed on experience and skills, however this is no longer the focus, and it is equally important to look at an individual’s emotional and cognitive intelligence.
  3. There is no one size fits all in leadership recruitment. It is difficult to recommend a one-stop process for a leadership role, as often these positions are influenced by the individual business in which they will be working. There are however a few things we would recommend bearing in mind. Firstly, start by looking inwards and understanding how you can attract the right kind of people for the role and make it appealing to them, and not just focussing on the technicalities of the process. Secondly, assess what the job actually is by meeting with stakeholders and discussing the role and the wider team in detail. From this discussion you can then create questions around competencies and tangible experiences. Finally, consider including an assessment in the process to shine a light on areas that you may not have already covered. When it comes to leadership positions the High Performance Trait Indicator (HPTI) helps identify leadership potential and gives details and informed succession planning reports to help individuals develop.

If you’d like to watch the full discussion between Matthew, Thomas International and In House Recruitment, you can watch it here.

With such far reaching influence recruiting the right leaders for your business is crucial. Please do get in touch with Matthew Evans to discuss any of the above further, or to chat about how we can help with your next leadership recruitment process.

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