Executive Leadership: Untraditional Requirements and the Impact on Executive Search

 In Blog, Business Trends, Leadership, Recruitment

Today’s discussions on the shift or evolution of talent are often focused on generational perceptions and needs (be it aging or Generation Z), technology driven by innovation and the reality of AI, or the growing move towards fractional work.

While all this is very relevant in guiding our approach to attracting, managing and retaining top resources, it is also important to take note of the shift to untraditional executive leadership requirements.

Innovation Takes Over

The long tenured executive holding a single leadership role within an organization for years on end has become rare. This is necessary with the speed of innovation and change in all sectors and markets even beyond technology and is viewed as positive in most cases. Innovation is now driving required efficiencies in processes and delivery throughout all workplaces in both private and public sectors.

Leadership today needs to be equipped to both lead and manage this change.

As organizations continue to maximize lean structures, the previous desire for leaders to remain relevant while driving growth, strategy and innovation becomes a requirement. Often, these traits are developed through continued learning and new experiences combined with developed expertise and proven success. Complacency in doing what has always worked is no longer acceptable as it tends to inhibit growth and the ability to scale.

Demand for Interim Leadership Expertise

This shift in the way executive leadership requirements are viewed has changed the landscape of both executive hiring and executive development. Increased pressures for constant strategic innovations to stay relevant, to have proven experience and the ability to successfully lead change for organizations (and for employees) has created an untraditional demand for exceptionally strong executive leadership talent.

This, combined with shorter tenures, has seen the demand for interim leadership expertise emerge and continue to grow. Often times it’s not necessary to replace current members of executive teams but instead to complement them with interim leadership for a set period of time or term. This is driven by the need for expertise relevant to the challenges and/or strategic opportunities currently facing an organization.

Interim leadership can also be used to supplement the development period required for identified succession, or as a means of maintaining leadership in an organization or over a specific function through phases of restructuring, acquisition or global expansion.

Evolution of Executive Recruitment

Driven by many of the same factors as the shift in leadership requirements, executive recruitment has also been impacted by innovation and shifts in the industry. Key changes include:

  • Executive search firms place heavier emphasis on building and maintaining relationships with current and potential leaders as well as with clients (vs focusing on maintaining databases and research)
  • Leaders who have migrated to consulting are now just as viable given the demand for interim talent
  • Recognition and continued need for more diverse leaders across organizations
  • Advancements in virtual meeting and collaboration abilities have made the location and scheduling requirements of the roles much less relevant

The partnership of traditional executive recruitment firms is also being tested as the value in the search itself is diminished by technology and universal access to searching talent 24/7 via virtually any device. Many firms now complement a search with leadership coaching and development services as well as utilize the technology abundance to make executive searches more affordable. But the value of an executive recruitment firm remains its ability to be an impartial partner who truly understands the organization, its culture, the leadership competencies needed at the time and marry that with the knowledge about the talent in the market – and then deliver when required. The personal relationships and networks firms now emphasize combined with the above enables firms to meet the current untraditional leadership requirements that have been created.

Take Aways

The openness of organizations to consider the more untraditional approaches to leadership is more and more apparent in all sectors.

Executive talent is looking for increased flexibility and ownership of their careers, a meaningful contribution to organizations and to be recognized for their impact.

The criticality of location and schedule have been minimized in favour of the knowledge, expertise and leadership brought. Organizations are aligning their demands to this notion of modern executive leadership.

If you’d like to discuss these points or have questions, please reach out to myself or Magda who leads our value-based Executive Search Practice here at Business Sherpa Group.

About the Author

Todd Luckasavitch is an executive level Human Resources leader with over 20 years of experience in all facets of HR. Todd’s key area of expertise lies within Talent Acquisition and Solutions. He has led large Talent Acquisition organizations globally. Additionally, he has extensive experience in system implementation, workforce planning and talent solutions program development, as well as great success in hands-on recruitment and talent placement at all levels within organizations, from new graduate and student recruiting programs to executive level placements.

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