• Long-term vision, strategy, and ability to adapt to change
• Deep understanding of their industry and competitor industries that will have an affect on their industry, as well as lead and inspire transformation
• Ability to engage and interact – building relationships with a board of directors
• Capability to raise the profile of the organization across the industry and in the community, as well as ability to raise money to support the mission
• Results-oriented drive that results in appreciable ROI
• Broad business acumen, bringing business and technology together
• Influential leadership rather than authority-driven leader.
• People skills that can translate across various organizations, a great leader of people inside, process driven, and cost control type leader.
The rate of turnover for CEOs is now about 5 years, as compared to 7-8 years previously. Companies keep a close pulse on their goals and want to see results quicker, therefore, making leadership changes sooner rather than later.
Most major companies have succession plans in place and tend to promote from within. A CEO from outside the organization has a lesser chance of being hired because they are pitted against the internal candidate (who normally gets the job).
Opportunities for CEOs in 2014 and beyond.
The biggest opportunities are for CEOs with a successful track record of turning around companies or forging new markets. There is a lot more demand for people who have experience in emerging markets, ideally if you are an executive with experience in the US, Europe and Asia combined – that is highly attractive to companies looking to fill a CEO role.
Not a CEO yet? Be poised to get that first CEO role with your current company. Most people in their first CEO role were not placed there by search consultant – usually they are succession planned to a CEO role by their company. A word of advice from Ulrich, “Don’t be too focused on becoming the next CEO. Try to deliver excellency in your present position and make sure people are talking about that in a positive way.”
Cross-sector placements are considered when a company didn’t do an effective job of succession planning. Typically they will look outside their organization at non-traditional candidates. For example, they may look at a corporate executive for a non-profit presidential role.
What do recruiters look for in CEO candidates?
Ulrich Ackermann, managing partner of Transearch International, recently shared in a BlueSteps panel discussion that he looks for these leadership traits: Head – an executive’s thinking abilities; Hand – the execution of solutions; Heart – what beliefs does the executive have; and, Spirit – how is the executive able to inspire and motivate teams? He then matches that to the company’s criteria for the role balancing expectations of what the CEO needs to deliver within the first three years.
For aspiring CEOs, Andrew Reese, partner of Boyden Global Executive Search gave this advice: “Companies want to hire someone in a CEO role that has run a company very similar to their own.” He also stated that it is very hard for a company to consider someone who has not had CEO experience.
A tip from Michelle Bonoan, partner at Heidrick & Struggles, is for CEOs to build relationships with executive recruiters. Start by identifying recruiters who specialize in their industry or job function. She suggests you introduce yourself and send a resume to let them know you are interested in certain types of opportunities. You want to be on their radar, but do not expect a phone call or email response. When there is a fit with a current search assignment, they will reach out.
It’s important to understand that in every industry recruiters have a team of thought leaders and sources they tap when trying to fill a job order. Even if you are not the right candidate for the search, a recruiter may call to discuss the job and try to get more information about how the industry speaks of the person they may be considering for that job. They might ask you your candid opinion. Could this person lead this or that, and you then become a go-to expert they call when they have a search. By continuing to keep in touch with the recruiter, they may think of you as the best candidate for their next search.