As leadership consultants, our clients frequently ask “Who should we choose?” It’s our job to help answer that question, taking into account the specific needs of the organization and the various strengths and attributes of the available ca-ndidates. Putting it all together, we give our best advice.
That’s actually not the trickiest question, though. No, the trickiest question is the very next one, after we’ve made our recommendation. “How do you know?” they ask.
Coming up with an answer to that question is what led us to undertake an unprecedented review of empirical analysis, case studies, historical anecdotes and accumulated conventional wisdom about what makes the right leader for a particular situation. Drawing on our findings and years of collective experience, we have crystallized some of the most important lessons about what makes for a good boss. The result is our new book, You Need a Leader—Now What? Within these pages lies a surprising truth about choosing a leader: it’s not all about the candidate. In many ways, it’s about you.
Every group—company, organization, or community—has unique characteristics, requirements, cultural attributes and specific needs that must be addressed by its leadership. What’s good for one is not necessarily good for another. Among the many widely held beliefs we hope to explode in this book:
It’s not always a bad thing to bring in an outsider. For struggling companies, a candidate from outside may have fresh perspectives that will provide a clean break from the ways of the past, leading to better results.
Traditional benchmarks for the viability of a candidate—age, certain types of experience, and ethnicity—often are not actually very useful in determining a potential leader’s chances for success with your organization.
Failure at another job does not mean failure at this one. An unsuccessful tenure at another company may turn out to have less to do with the leader and more to do with the circumstances they found themselves in. A bad situation elsewhere could be an opportunity for a good situation with you.
What seems like common sense does not always apply to the complex, dynamic needs of your organization. You Need a Leader—Now What?provides empirical evidence and colorful examples to make the point that what works for someone else may not be right for you, and that organizations encounter their biggest problems when they fail to follow a rigorous hiring process tailored to their specific situation.
We have a multitude of experience in the fields of executive search and governance. At Spencer Stuart, we have led teams in conducting hundreds of successful searches for top management and directors. Together, we have combined our thirty years of experience with groundbreaking research to help guide you to the right leader and to a prosperous future.