Executive Search – Can We Do It Ourselves?

If you are fortunate, you’ve grown the talent you need within your organization—you have someone who is ready for leadership, who has the experience required and the support of the board, staff, and key stakeholders. Well-planned succession of leadership is certainly the ideal, but rarely is it reality. While large corporations may have the luxury of grooming potential CEO’s, most nonprofits and small to medium size businesses don’t have the personnel depth to make this happen.

Odds are that the question in front of you now is not, “Do we need to conduct a search?” but, rather, “Can we do the search on our own or do we need help?”

Here are some factors to consider as you attempt to sort this out:

Are you confident you can attract the very best candidates? There are plenty of individuals out there looking for work and who will be attracted to your ads or social media posts, but are they the very best candidates? In our experience, often the best candidates—the leaders you really hope will apply—aren’t scanning the help wanted ads. These emerging leaders, and those leaders who are ready for the next challenge, may be ready to consider an opportunity like yours, but how do you find them? How will you capture their interest? Do you have a deep, professional network upon which you can draw? Do you have the resources to conduct the outreach that may be required?

Can you commit the time it takes to attract the very best candidates? If you’ve ever been personally responsible for conducting a job search, you know that even the somewhat passive approach of running ads and waiting to see who applies takes more time than you ever imagined. In determining whether or not you need help with your search, give careful consideration to the time commitment required to maximize your professional network and to proactively reach-out to potential candidates.

Are you prepared to manage a search and handle the administrative details? You want an executive search to reflect well on your organization. A search process that drags on and on or that fails to communicate with candidates in a timely manner will turn-off qualified candidates and send the wrong message at a time when you can least afford it. Keeping a search process on track, on time, and with appropriate attention to detail takes real focus. Do you have someone who is able to handle the inquiries, follow-up with candidates, and give your search the attention it deserves?

Do you have the “in-house” expertise required? How confident are you in your interviewing skills and your ability to conduct a thorough screening and evaluation process? Do you have the in-house expertise that you can trust to pre-screen applicants on your behalf? Are you confident that you understand what you can and can’t ask in an interview process, and are you ready to instruct and coach the other members of the interview team?

Is the board ready to lead? Keep in mind that if you are searching for a new CEO, President, or Executive Director, it is not a viable option to hand-off these tasks to someone who will report to the new leader. Sure, a capable VP, HR director, or administrator can handle some of the logistical details, but most of the other responsibilities rest with board leadership. Conducting the search for the CEO is one of those moments when the board can’t hand-off the responsibility to someone else. Some boards have the expertise and members willing to commit the necessary time, but others benefit greatly from the help of a search consultant.

In short, effectively managing a search process takes time and a level of expertise that most individuals, boards, and organizations don’t have. Even fewer have the active professional networks from which to draw the kinds of leaders they really need—successful professionals who aren’t job hunting and might remain unaware of the opportunity you are offering. If you found yourself responding to the questions above with a “no” or a “not sure,” it is likely that you and your organization could benefit from the help of a qualified search consultant.

This blog post was authored by Jeff Wahlstrom. If you would like to learn more about Starboard Leadership Consulting’s leadership transition and executive search services, visit our website: www.starboardleadership.com or click here to begin the conversation.