In 2024, organizations are increasingly recognizing that attracting and retaining top-tier talent is crucial for sustaining competitive advantage and driving innovation.

As the market for senior executives becomes more dynamic, we advise companies must adopt smart hiring strategies to ensure they secure the best leaders who can navigate the complexities of today’s business environment.

Understanding the New Senior-Level Talent Market

The senior-level talent market in 2024 is characterized by a blend of traditional leadership qualities and modern competencies. The rapid pace of technological advancement, the increasing importance of sustainability, and the need for diversity and inclusion have reshaped the expectations from senior executives. Today’s leaders must be agile, forward-thinking, and adept at managing cross-functional teams in a hybrid work environment.

Key Strategies for Hiring Smart at the Senior Level

Redefine Leadership Competencies: Modern senior leaders must possess a unique blend of skills. Beyond traditional competencies like strategic vision and financial acumen, they need to excel in areas such as digital literacy, change management, and emotional intelligence. Organizations should redefine their leadership competencies to align with the current and future needs of their business.

Leverage Advanced Analytics: Data-driven decision-making is revolutionizing the hiring process. Utilizing advanced analytics can help identify the characteristics and experiences that correlate with successful leadership within a specific organization. Predictive analytics can also forecast a candidate’s potential for growth and adaptability, ensuring a better cultural fit.

Enhance Employer Branding: In a competitive talent market, a strong employer brand is essential. Companies need to communicate their values, culture, and vision effectively to attract high-caliber candidates. Highlighting commitment to innovation, diversity, and employee well-being can make an organization more attractive to senior executives who are seeking purposeful and impactful roles.

Expand Search Horizons: The talent pool for senior-level positions is global. Organizations should look beyond local markets and consider candidates from diverse geographical and industry backgrounds. This approach not only widens the talent pool but also brings in varied perspectives that can drive innovation and growth.

Emphasize Cultural Fit: Cultural alignment is critical at the senior level, where leadership decisions significantly impact organizational culture. During the hiring process, it’s important to assess whether candidates’ values and management styles align with the company’s culture. This can be achieved through comprehensive behavioral interviews and cultural fit assessments.

Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion: Diverse leadership teams are proven to enhance decision-making and drive better business outcomes. Organizations must prioritize diversity and inclusion by actively seeking candidates from underrepresented groups. Implementing unbiased recruitment practices and ensuring diverse interview panels can help mitigate unconscious biases.

Utilize Executive Search Firms: Executive search firms can be valuable partners in the hiring process. These firms have extensive networks and expertise in identifying and attracting top talent. Collaborating with a reputable search firm can streamline the process and provide access to candidates who might not be actively seeking new opportunities.

Offer Competitive Compensation Packages: Attracting top senior talent requires competitive and comprehensive compensation packages. Beyond salary, candidates are looking for benefits that support work-life balance, such as flexible working arrangements, opportunities for continuous learning, and long-term incentives like equity options.

Conclusion

As the market evolves, staying ahead with these smart hiring strategies will be key to organizational success.

Recently, we held our Spring Conference in The Hague which aimed to ignite creativity, foster collaboration, and empower our teams to drive meaningful change.

Our conference provided a unique opportunity for colleagues from different counties and disciplines to come together, share perspectives, and collaborate on projects. Through interactive workshops, team-building exercises, and cross-functional brainstorming sessions, we gained a deeper understanding of each other's roles, strengths, and challenges. This collaborative spirit laid the foundation for future partnerships and synergies across the organization.

Spotlight on Employee Innovation:

At the heart of our conference was a celebration of innovation. We discussed our latest projects and initiatives aimed at improving processes, and delivering consistently outstanding results to our clients. The breadth and depth of talent within our organization was on full display, inspiring us all to push the boundaries of what's possible.

Driving Alignment with Company Strategy:

Effective communication and alignment around company goals are essential for driving collective action and achieving meaningful results. Throughout the conference, our company's vision, mission, and strategic priorities were reiterated, providing clarity and direction for us all. Interactive sessions allowed us to map our projects and initiatives to overarching business objectives, ensuring that everyone was aligned and working towards a common purpose.

Fostering a Culture of Innovation:

Innovation thrives in environments where creativity is encouraged, failure is viewed as a learning opportunity, and experimentation is celebrated. Our conference served as a catalyst for nurturing such a culture within our organization. Through thought-provoking discussions, and hands-on activities, we were encouraged to embrace a mindset of curiosity, resilience, and adaptability, laying the groundwork for future success.

Our internal conference was a resounding success, fueling excitement, creativity, and collaboration across our organization. As we reflect on the insights gained and connections forged, we are energized by the possibilities that lie ahead.

Armed with new ideas, skills, and perspectives, we are ready to embark on the next phase of our journey, united in our commitment to driving innovation, delivering results, and shaping a brighter future for our company and clients alike.

We spoke with Małgorzata Kulis VP, Managing Director and Katarzyna Skorupka-Podziewska, People & Culture Director at Volvo Trucks, Poland.

Volvo Trucks is a world-leading truck manufacturer, committed to drive progress and shape the future landscape of sustainable transports. 

Małgorzata, it has been almost 12 years since you joined Volvo Trucks Poland as a Managing Director. Has the company changed during that time?

Małgorzata: Completely! 12 years is a long time, and today we are totally different. I joined an organization managed in a directive manner, organized in silos, where information was treated as an asset to build an advantage to maneuver within the company. Few people understood why I, a woman, with no technical knowledge of trucks, suddenly became the Managing Director. I had to deal with some problems and the reluctance of others, who did not believe that a woman in a truck business could survive in the long -term, but I managed. Let me remind you that the concept of diversity was not that strongly promoted at that time, and I joined what was a very macho business.

Much time has now passed, and we have made many collective changes to become a great organization today, balancing experience with new generations, more women, as well as activating engagement of individuals to fight jointly for the company goals.

What has been most important in this transformation?

Małgorzata: Building a culture of open communication and trust. It's a long process, but it has paid off in many ways. I didn't know about the technicalities of the trucks, but I knew how to deal with people. Today, we are all proud of the community Volvo Trucks Poland creates, and some of our solutions are inspirational, not only for other Volvo Group entities, but also for our competitors. I have to say proudly that we created and still create many talents.  

And what are these solutions that allowed you to build this community?

Katarzyna: One of the assumptions of our strategy is the slogan: #Inspired by Your Needs. It means that we are inspired by the needs of our customers, our employees and our business partners. Our company employs 500 people in 13 distributed branches. This is not the easiest structure to manage, so we need to be close to people, genuinely listen to their needs and address them appropriately. People feel cared for, they feel our concern for them (the “care” factor increased from 60% to 90% in the last 3 years), it's not a slogan, but our everyday life.

Małgorzata: This approach strongly impacts the company's results. Last year we achieved our highest result and we believe we are doing so because we listen to people - I mean all people: our customers, our business partners and of course our employees, who are definitely the biggest assets of our organization, as well as the creators of our common achievements.  As a Management Team we travel around our locations, give space to ask questions and listen to ideas, analyze and address what people say, no matter whether it concerns basic or more sophisticated issues. We don't sweep anything under the rug. Maybe sometimes we don't have an answer immediately, but we acknowledge the issue and come back with answers encouraging local colleagues to propose solutions, improve processes, and to make constant small improvements.

Is this openness to listening to the voice of employees specific only to the Polish organization?

Małgorzata: Volvo Group is an organization that appreciates people feedback, but what we do is that we create “Local WHY” with everything we do in Poland. Today Poland is the 4th Volvo Trucks market in Europe and 6th in the world, so we are an important player, and we need to be strong for our customers, who act in an extremely difficult and competitive international environment.  

Sales of the trucks as such, is not enough. In Volvo Trucks we want to be the best and the most desired transport solution provider. It means that what we do must have a measurable value for our customers and our approach must be effective and focused on premium services. We also need to have a very professional and transparent dialogue with our customers to build relations for good and bad times.

By building open communication and trust, you gain knowledge about what people expect and know what they want. Are there other benefits?

Katarzyna: Employees feel listened to and cared for. They consciously work for innovative solutions. We believe that our customers can feel that we have a unique culture and that employees are stronger, dedicated, engaged and want to work with us.

Employees are ambassadors, they feel a unique sense of belonging here to our Volvo community, and this attracts customers. This energy transfers from people to people. This is what distinguishes us from the competition.

We are the market leader in many fields and have very high customer satisfaction which is measured systematically either in the area of trucks sales and delivery, or service market and retail services or financing provided by our sister company Volvo Financial Services. We care a lot about how our customers assess us and what can we still improve.

You say that this is what sets you apart in the market, that your employees are authentic brand ambassadors. Does this affect results and performance?

Małgorzata: Absolutely YES!!! People returned to working back in the office within two weeks after the first lockdown during Covid. Many other companies are still struggling to have people back in their offices. Our people are genuinely committed, have lots of new ideas and feel connected to the company and the Volvo Family we create. I believe that is why we have such a phenomenal performance.

Katarzyna: We have decreased the number of voluntary leavers twice to 4%. It is very difficult for our competition to encourage our people to leave Volvo Trucks. People go beyond their area and emphasize their strong bond with the company. Every year we organize the Health Challenge and other programs to take care of both the physical and mental health of our employees - but we never do it without checking what they really need. People organize it themselves, take an active part in it, fuel and motivate each other.

Also regarding additional benefits, we decided to introduce a pre-paid Volvo card system because people need different things. We have 25% of each generation in terms of age, it is a very well-balanced organization, and we need to accept that people have different needs. We do understand it and we care about it.

Małgorzata: As in every corporation we are a results driven company, there is high time pressure and results pressure, so we try to monitor the stress associated with it so that our people feel taken care of. We do what we do for real, we don't provide KPIs - because that's a corporate requirement, but we use them to Keep People Inspired, to Keep People Interested, and to Keep People Innovative. We don't follow fashion, but we do something for people in a real way and it pays off so well.

Our people increase our competitive advantage, optimize our activities and make us busy with so many great ideas and initiatives. And by this our Performance KPIs are also outstanding.  We have a great Management Team, where we are also very gender, age and personality balanced: 4 Women +  4 Men, isn’t it great?

Katarzyna: We both have great pleasure and satisfaction in working for such organization, and I am more than sure that most of our employees feel the same way.

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This is all very inspiring - thank you both!

Are You One Person at Work and Another at Home?

It occurred to me that all too often we find ourselves navigating the delicate balance between our different roles and identities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the dichotomy between our professional and personal lives. For many, the transition from the workplace to the comfort of home represents a shift not only in physical location but also in demeanor, values, and identity.

The phenomenon of being one person at work and another at home is often part of modern life, impacting individuals across diverse cultures and professions. This duality can manifest in various ways, from differences in behaviour and communication styles to distinct sets of values and priorities. I believe that understanding and reconciling these dual identities is essential for maintaining authenticity and well-being in both spheres of life.

At Work: The Professional Persona

At work, we often adopt a persona shaped by the demands of our role, organizational culture, and societal expectations; this persona is typically characterized by traits such as confidence, competence, and professionalism. We often adhere to workplace norms, protocols, and hierarchies, striving to present ourselves in a manner that aligns with perceived standards of success and professionalism.

The professional persona is often marked by a focus on performance, achievement, and the pursuit of career goals and so we often choose to emphasize traits and behaviours conducive to success in our respective fields, such as assertiveness, decisiveness, and strategic thinking. This compartmentalization of identity allows us to navigate the complexities of the professional world effectively, leveraging our skills and expertise to excel in our chosen professions.

At Home: The Authentic Self?

Conversely, at home we are often our authentic self, free from the constraints of the workplace. Here, we have the freedom to express our true thoughts, emotions, and vulnerabilities without fear of judgment or repercussion.

At home, we may exhibit a different set of traits and behaviours compared to our professional persona. We may prioritize qualities such as empathy and vulnerability, nurturing our relationships with loved ones and fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance. The home becomes a sanctuary where we can recharge and unwind.

Navigating the Interplay

While the distinction between professional and personal identities can be necessary, the interplay between these two spheres can present challenges and conflicts. Striking a balance between professional obligations and personal well-being requires conscious effort and self-awareness. We must navigate the boundaries between work and home, ensuring that neither domain encroaches upon the other at the expense of our overall happiness and fulfillment.

Moreover, the pressure to maintain disparate identities in different contexts can contribute to feelings of dissonance, imposter syndrome, and burnout. The disparity between one's professional and personal selves may give rise to feelings of inauthenticity or alienation, leading us to question our true identity and purpose. In such instances, fostering alignment between our values, aspirations, and actions becomes paramount in achieving a sense of wholeness and authenticity.

Embracing Authenticity

Ultimately, the journey towards integration and authenticity involves embracing the full spectrum of one's identity, encompassing both professional and personal dimensions. Rather than compartmentalizing different aspects of the self, we should strive to cultivate coherence and congruence across various domains of life.

Ideally we should honour our values, passions, and aspirations in both professional and personal contexts, fostering a sense of integrity and authenticity in all endeavors.

Moreover, organizations can play a pivotal role in supporting employees' holistic well-being by promoting workplace cultures that value authenticity, work-life balance, and psychological safety. By fostering environments where we feel empowered to bring our whole selves to work, organizations can enhance employee engagement, productivity, and overall satisfaction.

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

“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.

By including your team in the decision-making, investing in the future of your workforce, being willing to try out new ideas, clear communication, and a bit of tech-savviness you, as a leader, will be ready to navigate in the tech revolution!

In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, leaders need to embrace a mindset of continuous adaptation. We’re in an era of ‘The Digital Age’ where new transformative tech and trends are reshaping everything, forcing us to revisit what effective leadership really means. There is however no doubt that it involves staying informed about emerging technologies relevant to their industry, understanding their potential impact, and proactively integrating them into their business strategies.

The leaders that successfully explore and leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics are to gain major competitive advantages. However, if leaders resist adopting these new technologies, their companies might face challenges and fall behind in the market.

The question emerges: How does one navigate this rapidly changing landscape and stay ahead?

Well, digital transformation, which is a big term for a big change, is more than just incorporating new tools. It’s about changing the way your organization works, its culture, and how people think about their work. Hereby, the leaders play a crucial role in driving and managing this transformation, ensuring that it aligns with the overall business strategy. We have the pleasure of presenting five ideas on how you as a leader can successfully embrace and manage the digital transformation ahead to make it a success.

Inclusive Decision-Making:

By including the employees, the employees should have a say on where digitization could and should be adopted. When employees generate their own ideas about where digitization supports business, it is more likely to become a success. Include your employees!

Investment in Your Team’s Skills:

Developing talent and skills throughout the organization is a fundamental action for transformation and one of the most important in digital change efforts. This covers, defining roles and responsibilities, hiring digital talent and engaging integrators. The integrators are employees who understand both the business side and technical aspects and can translate and integrate the new digital methods and processes into the existing ways of working. Invest in your team!

Digital upgrade for day-to-day tools:

Give your daily tools and processes a digital makeover. With a strategic digital upgrade of the daily tools, you ensure to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. Be willing to try out new things!

Communicate the Change:

Clear communication is critical during a digital transformation. Telling the employees, the when, how and why it is changing and why the changes are important, helps the employees understand where the organization is headed. Explain the when, how and why!

Tech-Savvy Leadership:

You don’t have to be a tech expert, but possessing a basic understanding of key technologies is essential. Tech-savvy leaders can effectively communicate with their technical teams, make informed decisions, and lead their organizations into the future. Invest in yourself!

To summarize how to navigate in the tech revolution, leadership in the digital age is all about having a clear vision, being adaptable, and being open to new technologies. Bringing together these qualities is crucial for steady growth and lasting success in today’s tech-driven business world. These steps might seem simple at first but can be very effective for leaders to steer their organizations not just through digital changes but toward a future filled with innovation and prosperity.

Is your organization facing a larger tech transformation and looking to broaden your tech-savvy talent pool?

Feel free to reach out to your local Friisberg office

A new challenge for Executive Search

It is normal to quantify the right salary for a position, of any level, and especially for those that are classified as C-Level. Equally daily, during interviews with candidates, we recognise those soft skills that increasingly make the difference between one profile and another.

But have we ever considered what values can be of value to a candidate? Have we ever wondered what remuneration a candidate would be willing to revise for the right job?

In light of the ‘Conscious Quitting' phenomenon that characterised 2023, the HR world will have to reflect on this question and start taking into account the importance that a personal set of values can have for a candidate.  In fact, some studies brought to the fore by major national and international media, show that with reference to ‘Conscious Quitting', the choice, the decision to leave or change jobs due to ethical conflicts, is growing significantly.

The analysis of the problem conducted by Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, and by the EIB - European Investment Bank - highlights that in an historical moment characterised by wars and massive natural disasters that threaten our stability and our future, the Z Generation are very concerned about the world they will inherit and are willing to devote their time and talent to companies that are committed to providing them with a better future. Consequently, they are willing to quit when their companies let them down'. And it is not only young people who are fuelling this trend, but also Millennials and a minority of Enlightened Boomers.

The ideal candidate, in a future that is already here, will not only be the one who demonstrates that he or she has the expertise and soft-skills needed to fill a certain role or do a certain type of work, but it will become increasingly important to understand whether their values are shared by the ethos of the firm in which they will work and vice versa.

We are delighted to announce that V.E.R.A. Consulting will become part of Friisberg & Partners in Milan, offering Executive Search, Assessment, Executive Coaching and Organisational Development Consultancy.

As part of our dynamic and forward-thinking approach, we are thrilled to announce the opening of our new office in the vibrant city of Milan, Italy. This strategic move is a testament to our commitment to global expansion, fostering innovation, and cultivating strong relationships with clients and partners worldwide.

This reaffirms our successful global strategy to develop solid partnerships based on shared values and mutual esteem, integrating diversified skills and experience to offer our clients bespoke, forward-looking and extremely effective solutions.

From our central offices located in Sant'Ambogio, Aureliana De Sanctis and Giovanni Mantica will be the Partners dedicated to Executive Search. Thanks to their extensive experience within specific sectors, we know that they will strengthen and expand the presence of Friisberg & Partners throughout national and cross-border territories.

Milan, often regarded as the financial and fashion capital of Italy, serves as an ideal location for our new office. The city boasts a rich cultural heritage, a thriving business environment, and a strategic geographical position within Europe. Renowned for its historical landmarks, world-class cuisine, and influential fashion and design industries, Milan provides a unique backdrop that aligns perfectly with our values of excellence and creativity.

Our strengthened team in Milan brings several benefits to our valued clients and partners:

Enhanced Service Delivery: Proximity to European markets allows us to provide faster and more responsive services, addressing the unique needs of clients in the region.

Cultural Understanding: A local presence ensures a deeper understanding of our clients' cultures and business landscapes, enabling us to tailor solutions that resonate with their specific requirements.

Innovative Collaboration: By engaging with Milan's innovation ecosystem, we open up opportunities for collaborative projects that drive mutual growth and foster innovation.

Our strategically important office in Milan reflects our commitment to providing exceptional services, fostering innovation, and building lasting relationships on a global scale. We look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, confident in our ability to thrive in Milan's dynamic business landscape.

We are ready to work together as one close-knit Team!

In the fast-paced and ever-evolving world leadership has taken on a new dimension. The challenges and opportunities facing organisations today require leaders to be adaptable, forward-thinking, and empathetic. As we delved into the dynamics of leadership in 2024, it became apparent that successful leaders are those who can navigate complexity, foster innovation, and build resilient and empowered teams.

Adaptability and Agility:

One of the defining features of leadership in 2024 is the need for adaptability and agility. The business landscape is constantly changing, driven by technological advancements, geopolitical shifts, and societal transformations. Leaders must be adept at sensing and responding to these changes quickly. The ability to pivot strategies, embrace new technologies, and stay ahead of the curve is crucial for organisational success.

Technology Integration:

In 2024, technology plays an even more central role in business operations. Leaders need to not only understand emerging technologies but also integrate them seamlessly into their organisations. Artificial intelligence, automation, and data analytics are no longer optional; they are essential tools for optimising processes, improving decision-making, and gaining a competitive edge. Successful leaders are those who can harness the power of technology while ensuring ethical considerations and human-centric approaches are prioritised.

Empathy and Inclusivity:

The emerging new leadership style places a significant emphasis on empathy and inclusivity. As organizations become more diverse, leaders must be more attuned to the needs and perspectives of a wide range of individuals. Cultivating a culture of inclusivity fosters creativity and innovation, as diverse teams bring varied insights to problem-solving. Additionally, empathetic leaders build strong, cohesive teams, nurturing an environment where individuals feel valued and motivated.

Remote and Hybrid Working:

The global shift towards remote and hybrid work models has reshaped the traditional understanding of workplace dynamics. Leaders in 2024 must excel in managing remote teams, ensuring effective communication, collaboration, and employee well-being. The ability to foster a sense of connection and purpose among dispersed teams is paramount for sustaining productivity and organisational cohesion.

Environment, Social and Governance:

Leadership in 2024 goes beyond profit margins and market share. Organizations are increasingly expected to operate with a commitment to sustainability and responsibility. Leaders need to champion corporate social responsibility initiatives, aligning their organizations with values that resonate with both employees and consumers. A commitment to sustainability not only enhances the organization's reputation but also contributes to long-term success in an increasingly ESG conscious marketplace.

Learning and Development:

Leaders must prioritise continuous learning and development for themselves and their teams. Staying abreast of industry trends, acquiring new skills, and fostering a culture of lifelong learning contribute to organisational agility and resilience. Leaders who encourage and invest in the growth of their teams create a dynamic environment that adapts to change and thrives on innovation.

Leadership in 2024 is a multifaceted challenge that demands a holistic approach. Successful leaders will be those who can navigate complexity, leverage technology, foster empathy and inclusivity, adapt to remote work environments, champion environmental and social responsibility, and prioritise continuous learning.

By embracing these aspects, leaders can steer their organisations through the dynamic landscape of 2024 and beyond, ensuring sustained success in an ever-evolving world.

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