The success of the Board is 100% dependent on the success of the CEO the Board has hired.
Hiring is an extensive effort and is only worthwhile if the Board makes the right decision. Interviews, resumés and references give important information, however to avoid subjectivity and unconscious bias, cooperation with an Executive Search Partner is often the solution.
Using an experienced Executive Search Partner will bring additional benefits.
The Board‘s Chair should conduct individual discussions with each Board member regarding the organization‘s strengths and weaknesses, internal as well as market-driven challenges, and leadership needs for the future.
As a result a profile of the leadership attributes and behaviours necessary to successfully fulfil the CEO role can be developed and reviewed with the entire Board of Directors.
The Executive Search Partner will ensure the profile is both comprehensive and well tailored to the situation.
The most successful CEO appointments include consideration of both internal and external candidates.
It is important to remember that succession is rarely a neat process and the Board needs to have realistic expectations.
We recommend benchmarking to gain an objective perspective on the internal candidates and to assess the quality of CEO talent externally — particularly when the context, competitive landscape and company‘s strategy is changing.
An experienced Executive Search Partner will deliver job market insights in a short period of time.
An external Search should be led by the Chair of the Board together with the trusted Executive Search Partner to ensure that the very best candidates are considered.
The Partner that has trusting relationships with candidates, information sources and referees can help the Board to develop a long-list of prospects based on candidates' previous roles and industry experience.
Once a long-list is settled, all candidates, internal and external, should be ranked against the core competencies and attributes agreed in the CEO Profile. Those that best meet the profile should be included into the short-list.
The Nomination & Remuneration Committee and/or the Executive Search Partner will typically conduct interviews to reduce the list to a small group of 2 or 3.
The Board can get excited about a candidate‘s resume without fully understanding whether the executive’s views about strategic direction and leadership style are fully compatible with the Board’s own view, and within the framework of the organization’s desired culture.
Therefore the final candidates are typically given an opportunity to present to the Board, followed by Q&As. The presentation is useful to understand differences in the candidate's vision of the company‘s strategic direction, approach to leadership, personal motivations and aspirations.
All Board members should be involved in the interviews of the final candidates and use an interview guide that the Executive Search Partner can provide. The guide outlines critical competencies for the position and the key organizational culture attributes for rating the candidates in these areas. This eliminates subjectivity, helps to focus on concrete skills and performance, and allow agreement on a single candidate.
The Executive Search Partner is in position to arrange thorough reference checks. Ideally, the checks should be done in person with members of the Board present, so critical non-verbal communication is not lost.
We know that the most successful hiring processes are those in which the right people are brought to the table, the specification is designed with the future strategy in mind and the candidates are assessed holistically.
While there can be immense pressure to make a decision quickly, the Board must resist that urge and take the time necessary to make a fully informed decision.