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Johto Advisors

Navigating the Evolving Landscape of Executive Search: Insights from the Global Front


Last week, I was in Vienna with my colleagues  for the global meeting and 40th-anniversary celebration of the Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group which spans 29 countries. For the past two years, we have been a part of this executive search network to serve our clients internationally. We met with old acquaintances from around the world and representatives from our new member companies from South Africa, Canada, Switzerland, and Greece.

In our discussions, we noticed that there are consistent but also varied challenges in the executive search market internationally. Some key takeaways include:

1) Executive search remains active across all markets. Leaders are also proactively seeking opportunities. We are not so sensitive to economic fluctuations, as new leadership and challenges are sought in economic upturns and downturns.
2) Generally, there’s more demand for leaders than supply. Leaders might simultaneously be involved in multiple processes and are selective about their moves. Withdrawals in the final stages are more frequent than before. An increasing number opt to remain in their current roles.
3) Due to withdrawals and the selectivity of candidates, the size of long lists has grown, and more time is spent on contacting and discussing with the candidates. This is becoming a significant challenge, especially in larger markets. In smaller markets, the challenge is the limited pool of candidates.
4) Remote leadership/ relocation? Even though remote leadership and flexibility have increased, a presence in the organization is still required. Relocation adds a layer of complexity to finding the right candidate. Some areas face significant challenges in attracting leaders to relocate.

So, what does this mean for executive search?

1) Despite a broader pool of candidates and an increased number of dropouts, we (both consultants and client companies) need to speed up and streamline executive searches to avoid losing the best candidates.
2) Too strict criteria regarding candidates’ experience and skills often prolong and ultimately complicate the process. Of course, it’s vital to recognize the skills a new leader should possess, but in my experience, many requirements can be flexed, and skill profiles can be viewed more broadly.
3) Companies need to be prepared not only for quick decisions but also to make courageous choices from potentially slimmer pools of candidates. This is actually helped by investing adequately in initial discussions and deliberations of the search. Identifying the right fit becomes significantly easier when you know what you want.
4) A thorough job and leadership profile definition is key to successful leadership selection. This and good discussions help candidates understand the company’s vision, expectations, and keys to success. Experienced leaders choose a position where values align and success is attainable.

Jaana Pollari
Palaa takaisin

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