Choosing a new CEO is not the easiest task in the world. While it is easy enough to assess the qualifications and strengths of more subordinate positions, CEO is the equivalent of the captain of a ship, and therefore responsible for all the decisions and actions taken by the business. Finding someone to take on all that responsibility can be a challenge. Here are how the experts, such as those at Eagle Headhunters here, manage the job.
There is a tendency to think of CEOs as being quite ‘posh’, speaking with a certain accent, having degrees and more. However, if you actively remove those considerations from your mind, it is very possible that many effective candidates then rise up your shortlist. The best CEOs, arguably, are those who have worked their way up the business, as this means that they will know it inside and out, bringing a wealth of proficiency to the table.
List Essential Qualities
Draw up a list of essential qualities needed in a CEO and do not compromise on these. It can be anything from adhering to ethical practices (commitments to gender pay equality, improved diversity, responsible sourcing) to ensuring a set percent profit each year. If any candidate shows that he or she cannot adhere to these requirements, you can remove them from the list. There is room to compromise, but not on these essentials.
Flexibility can sometimes be dismissed as ‘wishy-washiness’ but it is actually a tremendous strength. The ability to think fast and adapt to changing situations is invaluable and should be seized upon as such.
Go for Substance over Style
Along the lines of keeping an open mind, when you are caught between two seemingly good candidates, opt for the one who has more industry experience and qualifications rather than someone who merely looks the part. This is trickier than it sounds, we humans do tend to make snap decisions, and very often cling to them despite evidence to the contrary!
An older candidate can sometimes seem like a poor choice, but this is a sign of ageism. Many cultures value older members for their wisdom and insights, and these qualities are just what is needed in a CEO.
Allow for Humanity
As mentioned above, while there are some essential characteristics that the CEO hopeful must have, there are also allowances to be made for personal quirks and foibles. Allow for imperfections in a CEO – they are only human, after all – without allowing for bigotry or harmful bias to creep in.
They Are Just an Employee
It can be awkward, hiring a CEO, especially if those responsible for making the choice will then be his or her subordinates. This can result in an uneven interview process, with the hard questions not being asked. Reassure everyone on the selection board that CEOs are mere employees in the grand scheme of things, albeit rather high-powered ones!
The Board Must Retain Oversight
Too much delegation can be a bad thing: an outgoing CEO secretly reluctant to depart could unconsciously choose a weak replacement which will necessitate his or her return, others might try to promote or select their friends or family into the position, or any number of other similarly grubby practices might occur. For this reason, the board should outsource the process to a reputable recruitment agency – apart from ensuring that nothing unethical happens, it will also ensure that the best candidate is offered the job.