When choosing a new CEO, board members and shareholders are more than conscious that the impact of their choice can range anywhere between adding immense value to the company and having an adverse effect on profitability and corporate climate. Executive search consultants are there to help. As experts in finding the best candidates for C-roles and supporting both candidates and clients alike, they offer suggestions and opinions on evaluation and selection criteria.
In a recent survey, Agilium Worldwide asked its member firms in 27 countries and on five continents about their experience with CEO hiring trends. Reflecting on the type of profile that candidates would need to have, one question asked whether “companies in your country preferred a “generalist” profile (broad experience gained from working in different sectors, different roles and various types of companies) or a “specialized” profile (deep experience related to the job at hand, gained from working in a similar sector, previous roles and type of company)”. The majority stated that a specialist profile was most often preferred in their country, but that this sometimes depended on the future strategy of the company, and also the type of company. For example, the CEO of a pharma/biotech company would preferably have deep, specialized experience, whereas a broader, more generalist profile would better fit the role of the CEO of a holding company.
It is worth noting that generalist CEOs are more likely to inspire and create much needed, transformative innovation than are specialist CEOs. Innovation is key to competitive advantage. But also risky and can result in either huge rewards, or failure and loss of job. Generalist CEOs have a major advantage here - they have diverse skills and competencies and know that these are transferable to another firm or industry should the worst case occur. So they are fundamentally not afraid of making mistakes. They can confidently think out-of-the-box and form the foundations of a new corporate culture. Specialist CEOs have to tread more cautiously. Their skills and competencies tend to be more technical and harder to transfer to other industries. Avoiding mistakes is therefore imperative and they are usually not as fearless in taking risks in cultures where there is low tolerance for failure. Considering this, we realize there may be a relationship between successful innovation and tolerating mistakes and failure. And we will look at this is a further article.
Founded in 1984, Agilium Worldwide LLC (https://www.agiliumworldwide.com/) is an international executive search group of independent, owner-managed retained executive search firms, with members who are active in virtually every market. Agilium Worldwide ranks among the world’s top 25 executive search organizations.
Agilium Worldwide’s member firms offer personalized, specialized, client-oriented services. By eliminating the formally structured, pre-programmed approach they can remain proactive and secure prompt, skilled and expert service to their clients, to help them find the “Perfect Fit” – the right person for the right position, at the right time, at the right location.
Agilium Worldwide member firms are trusted advisors to companies from the Fortune 500, as well as to upcoming and start-up companies around the globe. Clients get the best of both worlds: an entrepreneurial approach with global reach and local perspective.