We are looking forward to our Friisberg Spring Conference in The Hague and what will be an incredibly busy few days.

Maarten van de Sande and his team, from our office in The Netherlands, are hosting this conference with Partners from our local offices are travelling from all over the world to participate in the event.

Our Conference is not only about learning and development, but also about reflecting on what we have all, individually and collectively, achieved over the past 6 months, and taking some time to enjoy the experience, socialise with friends and meet new ones.

It is fabulous to be a part of the FPI team.

Are you ready to capitalize on it?

The workforce now consists of three generations of employees which is something previously unseen in the corporate world.

Older generations are impacted by increasing pension age, oftentimes delaying retirement, meanwhile the millennials continue to enter the workforce; in fact, they already make up a significant chunk of it. To make things more complex, COVID made its mark on values and expectations of different generations - not to mention the technology-centric environment that is here to stay.

This 'new normal' affects recruitment options and opens new opportunities to capitalize on age diversity.

Various studies have noted that leaders of different ages bring different skill sets and know-how to the table. Diversity helps to improve discussions, foster innovation and facilitate creative problem solving. And it's not just skills but also networks and viewpoints that are complementary. As a result, age diverse teams can better reflect the needs of larger consumer segments.   

The strengths and weaknesses of different generations clearly offset each other.  

Perceived receptiveness towards innovation, high energy and eagerness to learn mean younger leaders often prevail over the perceived lower energy, often fixed attitudes and questionable technological literacy of their older counterparts.  

It seems obvious that knowledge of experienced generations combined with a fresh take of younger ones produces better results. But how to get the mix right?

Different attitudes towards remote work, preferred styles of communication, respect of hierarchy (or absence of it) are the key pitfalls faced by the age diverse teams.  It can lead to serious trust, collaboration and miscommunication issues which then result in lower productivity.

Inclusive leadership is the future.

Every organization is unique, so are the markets in which the organizations operate. For example, Central and Eastern European companies usually have rather young management boards and need to attract older talent from the West.

The way forward may lie in embracing the culture which celebrates the strengths of different generations. The challenge is to find a formula that employs generational differences for the benefit of the organization. For example, adopting a decision making approach where the preference for very fast and reactive decisions is combined with well thought, double checked, experience based attitude.  Also, embedding training and mentorship programs to ensure the knowledge transfer becomes a necessity.  

Friisberg & Partners can help your company by encouraging age diversity through implementing inclusive hiring practices.

We work with you to create an environment where individuals of all ages feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and experiences.

“Decision making is the specific executive task”

Peter Drucker

Timely and effective decision-making on management level is a key factor driving the performance of a business organization.

Deciding about strategic choices, or solving operational challenges, is a complex skill relying on data analysis capacity, sound judgement, logical thinking, ability to trust one's own intuition as a distillation of previous experience and last, but not least, a strength of character enabling one to take risks and responsibility.

The management consulting firm Bain, performing a survey of more than 750 companies, found a clear correlation of 95% between the corporation`s financial results and their effectiveness in terms of decision-making. Another insight of the survey showed business organizations that are especially good at making and executing strategic decisions report returns nearly 6% higher than their competitors.

Research by consulting firm McKinsey, with more than thousand managers from global companies, gave clear indications of increasing levels of frustration from broken decision-making processes, with the slow pace of decision-making and with the inconsistent quality of the results from the decision-making. Less than half of the survey participants reported that decisions are timely, and more than 60% say that at least half the time spent making them is ineffective.

How can business leaders improve their decision-making capacity and performance?

Decision-making is not a eureka moment of revelation. It is a process, and assuming a structured step-by-step approach could help gain control and ensuring its effectiveness and efficiency:

According to Schlesinger it is critical to ensure the pieces are in place for implementation. An effective team decision-making process encompasses:

By following a structured, multi-step process, you can make well informed, effective decisions and achieve the desired outcome. But even the not so perfect decision is often far better than no decision at all. 

As  Gordon Graham wisely pointed out, “Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.

In the realm of leadership, technical skills and strategic thinking often take center stage. However, there's a crucial yet often overlooked aspect that separates good leaders from great ones: Emotional Intelligence (EQ). In this article, we explore why EQ is indispensable for effective leadership and how it can transform workplace dynamics.

At its core, EQ encompasses the ability to recognize, understand, and manage both our own emotions and those of others. In a professional setting, this translates into improved communication, stronger relationships, and better decision-making.

Here's why EQ matters:

In conclusion, Emotional Intelligence is not just a nice-to-have skill for leaders—it's a must-have. It underpins effective communication, builds trust and rapport, facilitates conflict resolution, cultivates resilience, and empowers others to thrive. As we navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, let's remember that true leadership begins with understanding ourselves and others on a deeper emotional level.

At Friisberg & Partners, we emphasize EQ while evaluating the leadership qualities of our candidates. We never forget to look beyond the CV, and consider the power of Emotional Intelligence. It could be the difference between a candidate who merely manages a team and a candidate who inspires greatness.

Thirty-three years ago I spent two years in the middle of my studies sailing in the Whitbread Round the World race on s/y UBF. It was a great experience. Then came work, family and all other priorities and duties. My friends often asked, if I would do the circumnavigating or an ocean racing leg again, should the opportunity arise? Hell yeah! I always answered but continued that no one would take a 58 year-old, grey haired and bearded office guy on-board... so not a chance.

But then luck kicked in the form of The Ocean Globe Race, a fully crewed retro race in the spirit of the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race. There it was, my chance to relive my great adventure.

Sailing the Leg 3, from Auckland of New Zealand via Cape Horn to Punta Del Este of Uruguay, on a Nautor Swan 651, s/y Spirit of Helsinki was beyond great - as well as the team. 

One special element of this race is that no communication to and/or from the boat was allowed except some tweets to the organizers or in case of an emergency. So we were really 100 % offline for five weeks: no emails, no social media, no WhatsApp, no sms, no phone calls - totally disconnected from work and from families. 

During those five weeks, our universe was the boat, the ocean, the sky and the 14 team members - and being offline is inspirational.

It is possible.

You can actually live without emails, calls, news and social media for five weeks, no problem! I suppose we aren’t irreplaceable after all. My only concern was my family: was everything OK with them. That bothered me quite a lot. It was such a relief to get the phone from the sealed bag in in Punta del Este, to call home straight away and to hear that everyone was OK!

Should you have a job or a business, thorough preparation is required.

Planning of projects, managing the hand-overs to colleagues (a big thank you to my fellow colleagues at Friisberg!) and making sure that all administration eg. billing, taxes etc. are all well-planned beforehand. Nonetheless I was feeling a bit shaky when I opened my email after the five weeks offline, but fortunately there were no crisis, no big issues waiting there. My projects had gone well during and despite my absence and I had few calls from new clients waiting for my return.

Onboard we had our daily jobs and roles.

We hardly ever talked about our land based professional lives during the five weeks. The talk was around sailing, watch systems (work-schedule on board), competition, sail-trim, strategy, maneuvers, food, weather or sleep - not work. It was a time for something else for everyone. On the boat we were helmsmen, sail-trimmers, not CEOs or Executive Search Consultants. Thirty year-old Hilla, the only female on board was our most accurate and by far the fastest in celestial navigation with the traditional sextant. And our excellent second mate, 22 years old Aaro, told the four CEO's aboard what to do in the sail change.  And that worked well. Should we change our roles more often in the office work as well?

Now that I’m back online I challenge you to try being offline. Try it for a week or two at first - like on your next holiday.

The first step is to decide, then plan, and finally just to do it.

When we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world.

In the ongoing pursuit of gender equality, inclusion stands as a cornerstone principle, essential for breaking down barriers, challenging stereotypes, and creating environments where all women are valued and respected.

World-renowned feminist, journalist and activist, Gloria Steinem, reportedly once explained:

"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."

While progress has been made in advancing women's rights and opportunities, true gender equality remains elusive in many parts of the world. Inclusion is vital to drive meaningful change to a more equitable future.

Inclusion is not merely about representation; it's about creating spaces and systems where all women, regardless of their background, identity, or circumstances, feel valued, heard, and empowered. This means recognizing and addressing the intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization that women from diverse backgrounds face, whether based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Breaking down barriers is a central tenet of inclusive gender equality:

Women encounter various obstacles on their path to equality, including structural barriers such as discriminatory laws and policies, limited access to education and healthcare, and unequal opportunities in the workforce. Inclusive action involves identifying and dismantling these barriers to ensure that all women have equal access to resources, opportunities, and decision-making processes.

Challenging stereotypes is another vital aspect in the quest for gender equality:

Stereotypes based on gender, race, ethnicity, or other factors often limit women's potential and perpetuate harmful biases and discrimination. By challenging these stereotypes and promoting diverse representations of women in media, education, and leadership, we can create a more inclusive narrative that celebrates the richness and complexity of women's experiences and identities.

Creating environments where all women are valued and respected requires a cultural shift that prioritizes empathy, respect, and solidarity:

This entails fostering inclusive attitudes and behaviors at all levels of society, from families and communities to workplaces and policy-making institutions. It involves promoting ally ship among individuals and organizations, amplifying marginalized voices, and actively challenging discrimination and exclusion wherever it occurs.

To achieve inclusive gender equality, action is needed on multiple fronts:

Inclusion is not just a buzzword; it's a fundamental principle that underpins the pursuit of gender equality. By breaking down barriers, challenging stereotypes, and creating inclusive environments where all women are valued and respected, we can build a more just and equitable society for everyone.

It's time to take action and make inclusion a reality in our quest for gender equality:

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Executive Leadership Landscape

In an era defined by technological leaps, artificial intelligence (AI) stands as a transformative force reshaping industries across the globe. The realm of executive leadership is no exception, as the advent of AI brings forth a wave of changes that will significantly influence how organizations identify, nurture, and leverage their top-tier talent.

Data-Driven Decision Making

AI is revolutionizing the way leaders make decisions. With advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms, executives can now rely on data-driven insights to inform their strategic choices. This shift not only enhances decision-making precision but also demands a new set of skills from executives, emphasizing the importance of data literacy at the leadership level.

Augmented Leadership Roles

As AI systems take over routine tasks, executives will find themselves freed from mundane responsibilities, allowing them to focus on more strategic, creative, and high-impact aspects of their roles. This augmentation of leadership responsibilities requires a paradigm shift, encouraging executives to develop a symbiotic relationship with AI tools to maximize efficiency and innovation.

Redefining Skills Sets

The rise of AI necessitates a reevaluation of the skills expected from executive leaders. While traditional leadership qualities remain indispensable, proficiency in understanding and leveraging AI technologies becomes a critical asset. Executives need to cultivate a deep understanding of AI applications relevant to their industry, ensuring they can harness these technologies to drive organizational success.

Ethical Leadership in AI Adoption

The ethical implications of AI adoption are a growing concern. Executives will play a crucial role in navigating the ethical landscape of AI, ensuring transparency, fairness, and accountability in its implementation. Leaders must proactively address ethical challenges, building trust both within their organizations and among stakeholders.

Global Talent Pool Dynamics

AI facilitates remote work, opening new possibilities for global collaboration. Executives can harness AI tools to identify, recruit, and manage diverse talent from around the world. This globalization of the talent pool requires leaders to adapt their management styles to accommodate diverse perspectives and work cultures.

Continuous Learning and Adaptability

AI evolves rapidly, and executives must keep pace. The expectation for continuous learning and adaptability becomes a cornerstone for effective leadership. Executives need to cultivate a mindset of lifelong learning, embracing new technologies and staying abreast of industry trends to lead their organizations through the dynamic landscape shaped by AI.

As artificial intelligence continues to permeate the business world, executive leaders face both challenges and opportunities. Embracing AI as a strategic ally, redefining skill sets, navigating ethical considerations, and fostering a global perspective are essential elements for executives to thrive in the AI-driven future.

The journey ahead requires leaders who can seamlessly integrate AI into their leadership style, guiding their organizations towards sustainable success in an ever-evolving landscape.

Key Intangible Factors Considered by Executives in Career Decision-Making.

After years of interviewing executives, we have identified a series of intangible benefits that they value when considering a career change and a new project, which they believe will determine their success.

Apart from the specific challenges of the company, the role, and the executive's experience and skills, the following are some of the key elements they consider when making a decision:

These elements vary when it comes to a listed company, versus an unlisted company. In the case of a listed company, they also consider the following:

These are basically differences in terms of shareholder pressure, financial regulations, access to capital, and strategic focus, which influence their decision-making.

In addition, whether a business is mature or not also introduces new elements into the mix before making a decision, depending on the stage of business development and the specific needs associated with each.   For example:

All of these are key elements to consider when defining an ideal executive profile for a position in a company and should be considered.

Why Humans Trump AI in Executive Search

In today's digital age, artificial intelligence (AI) has undeniably revolutionized various industries. With advanced algorithms, machine learning, and natural language processing capabilities, AI-powered recruitment tools promise efficiency, speed, and accuracy in talent acquisition.

Despite the technological advancements, we know that the human element remains indispensable in the Executive Search process - here's why:

We know that the human touch remains irreplaceable to attracting and retaining top talent.

At the Handelsblatt EnergySummit 2024, it once again became clear that although the energy transition in Germany has made progress and the share of renewable energies was 50% in 2023, it still poses many challenges.

In order to ensure security of supply, even on days with little wind and sunshine, gas power plants are to step in, initially powered by natural gas and in the future by hydrogen. The plan is to build 20 to 30 of these gas-fired power plants. The nationwide hydrogen core network will connect hydrogen locations such as power plants, storage facilities and import corridors. MAN Energy Solutions, for example, is providing hope as to how CO2-free local heating supplies can function in the future with large heat pumps. These are expected to supply around 25,000 households. The use of synthetic methane could also be interesting as it would have the advantage that the existing gas networks could be used for distribution.

These are exciting times!

Friisberg & Partners is pleased to be shaping this transformation in utilities and the decarbonization of the industry in Germany and Europe by filling key positions.

We have repeatedly been recognized by @WirtschaftsWoche as one of the best Executive Search consultancies in the German Energy sector because we succeed in finding executives with strong implementation skills.

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