What do executives really want?

Human nature dictates how we conduct ourselves within business spaces and operations. We often focus too heavily on our own interests and needs and fail to focus on designing solutions that benefit all parties. This especially applies to Executive Search where we are challenged by juggling multiple interests. In order to find the perfect fit for an organisation, one needs to be cognisant of what that organisation is offering and whether it is a match to what the potential candidate truly wants.

So what are the “wants” of top executives?

1.    Companies with a future

This seems obvious – why would anyone climb on board a sinking ship? But even successful companies might have a red flag somewhere. Some companies are on the up, but fail to recognize fundamental flaws in either their product, structures or culture. They may have an outdated philosophy, poor employee rapport or a lack of resources to survive a calamity. Permanent damage control is not fun for anyone – at the end of the day, we all like periods with less pressure.

2.    Creative Disruption

Innovation and disruption are two similar concepts yet there are real distinctions between them. Innovation lends itself to new ideas, new ways of doing things. Disruption, however, changes our structural thinking and uproots established ways of doing things. Put it this way, you have a pile of stones; innovation is carefully arranging the stones to build a wall. Disruption is digging a moat. Both do an equally good job at protecting a castle, but one uses finite materials to achieve an end, the other uses none (but produces a pile of earth and leaves you with a pile of stones).

So in order to attract the best talent, and hold onto it, we need to provide executives with a space to facilitate disruptive solutions. Whether the company has a pre-established reputation or are looking for fresh life, new appointees will be on the lookout for malleable organizations.

A philosophy of creative disruption also feeds the structure of work, making each day more dynamic and interactive through a constant flow of ideas, risk taking and brand development.

3.    Coaching and Leadership Development

Top Executives are seldom satisfied with the idea of reaching a professional plateau. It makes sense that executives wish to seek out development opportunities throughout their whole careers. Yet almost two thirds of executives are not offered the opportunity to be coached.

Why is getting external coaching important?

Many executives have the skills – they can inspire a crowd, develop a strong strategy and present complex concepts, which fulfils predetermined requirements. Professional isolation of an executive does not produces a better leader.Continual development of skills and talents produce a leader that avoids complacency and is switched on to themselves, their flaws and their strengths. Knowledge is power, and knowing how to delegate will cover all bases and ensure that the ball is always up in the air.

Blind Spots are less obvious when things are going well and they can wreak havoc. A good third party assessment is a clear reality check for executives. Furthermore, every individual within an organisation will have an agenda – whether personal or professional, so a neutral party always works to provide clarity on strategy and status. It is the role of an executive coach to drive the success of the whole company through the CEO. 

It is also important to assess why more executives are not seeking out and partaking in coaching opportunities. One reason could be that it holds a stigma of being “remedial” or a sign of company distress but it so often assists with proactively identifying and remedying issues ensuring a steady forwards momentum and gaining competitive advantage. It is therefore crucial that Boards stay up to date with executive coaching opportunities and trends in order to set the conditions for company success. Any company that wishes to stay relevant understands that industries change, leadership theories evolve as do pedagogical approaches. To take a static approach to leadership is to weigh down your progress and responsiveness.

Even the most experienced leaders encounter challenges, but the expectation that they will surmount them is only reasonable if they are constantly trained. Give leaders the chance to be their own best, and the company will succeed with them. 


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Written by Sarah Mason, Social Media Strategist at Business Essentials for Executive Headlines