How To Choose The Right CXO For Your Company

Organizations must prioritize emotional intelligence when deciding on the key traits expected from a leader. The emotionally intelligent leader is most likely to build a connection with employees, inspire trust across the organization, and empower team members as they move forward.


‘Great leaders do not desire to lead but to serve’. These words by entrepreneur and evangelist, Myles Munroe, aptly describe the true essence of a great leader.

It is no secret that under the right leadership, businesses can grow significantly and seamlessly, crossing new milestones and reaching new heights. In a recent report from a leading management consulting firm, organizations with good leadership can exhibit qualities such as productivity, innovation and resilience more proactively and effectively. Indeed, leaders can make or break an organization. And while everyone knows and understands the indispensable role that leaders play in paving the way for a strong future, they are also acutely aware of how costly incorrect hiring decisions at this level can prove to be. Without the right hiring strategy and approach, appointing a CXO can be a complicated, even exhausting task, for an organization.

In this unpredictable, ever-changing environment, finding the right leader is no longer only about conventional markers such as experience or performance. The demands are deeper. It is time for organizations to think outside the box, be transparent, and take focused steps to find the right fit.

The Approach: It starts from within

Every organization has basic recruitment strategies in place. However, a well-rounded leadership hiring approach should aim to go beyond the basic practices like evaluating relevant experience and carrying out thorough reference checks.

Here are 6 key steps to take when hiring leadership:

1. Build trust and transparency

Transparency breeds trust and trust builds positive & credible relationships.

Organizations need to examine their current recruitment processes to ensure that it is clear, structured, and open. Every step in the process must be designed with the goal of creating a positive candidate experience. The lack of transparency can lead to reduced credibility, providing a hazy picture to the candidate and therefore, interfering with their perception of the organization.

A transparent and structured process is not only necessary for building a better brand image but also to achieve better results. It is essential that everyone involved in the process is absolutely clear about their roles and responsibilities and the same communicated to the candidate proactively. The nature of the process must be fluid and collaborative, always leaving room for intense, free-flowing, relevant discussions and feedback.

2. Define culture and values

A growing number of entrepreneurs, leaders, and organizations are realizing the importance of hiring for culture fit. This is true across the hierarchy.

A company’s culture is shaped by its underlying beliefs, values, and vision. When looking for the right leader for an organization, one needs to look for individuals who are aligned with the core culture and can eventually assist in enhancing it. Defining the company culture and values to

the potential hires helps both sides steer clear of any mismatched expectations. While skills and competencies are extremely important factors, finding a leader who shares the same value system and ethos can add to the organization’s culture and prove to be far more enriching for the organization’s long-term growth and health.

3. Craft the realistic job description

What does the organization need? What are the short-term and long-term goals? What is the vision that it intends to fulfill? Though straightforward, these questions can provide valuable insights that will assist hiring managers in crafting a job description that is as close as possible to the current set of realities faced by the organization.

Especially after the pandemic, the traditional notions of a leader have been turned upside down. Organizations need to keep this in mind when deciding and agreeing on the key competencies required from their next leader. A simple but effective step is to keep evolution as a filter when agreeing on required competencies and deciding KRAs.

Once again, clarity is the common thread binding each step together.

4. Ensure a holistic evaluation

We strongly believe that evaluation must not be based on a CV alone. Especially when it comes to evaluating experienced leaders, organizations need to alter their approach and dig deeper to look for potential.

Interviews and discussions must involve asking relevant questions, active listening, and encouraging a deeper two-way exchange. This requires preparation. Taking this approach enables organizations to identify how a candidate can meet their unique needs and add value to the company. While a stellar past record is a good way to filter out CVs, one must remember that every organization’s challenges and demands are different. What works for one, may not always work for the other.

In short, perfect CVs, past performance, and recommendations are great indicators, but hiring managers must not allow these factors to interfere with the process. It is possible for candidates to ace interviews with thorough practice and experience; therefore it is necessary that interviewers avoid stereotypes, and devise rock solid parameters to evaluate their candidates and be ready to really deep dive into the answers.

5. Look for emotional Intelligence

In the last two years, we have all learned valuable lessons about the need for emotional intelligence in leaders. An effective leader needs to demonstrate empathy, self-awareness, and authenticity. Once seen as ‘good-to-have’ skills, EI is now viewed as a core skill for leaders across the globe.

In a report from a leading management consulting firm, the key attributes of a resilient organization are its preparedness and adaptability levels, along with its capability to ensure the provision of a cohesive, trustworthy, and responsible workplace. Needless to say, resilient organizations are driven by leaders who display the same quality.

Therefore organizations must prioritize emotional intelligence when deciding on the key traits expected from a leader. The emotionally intelligent leader is most likely to build a connection with employees, inspire trust across the organization, and empower team members as they move forward. Their personal integrity and ability to give everyone a voice can strengthen organizations from within. Hiring managers must look for these essential traits in potential hires by getting an understanding of how they have reacted to tough people situations in their current and previous stints.

6. Provide seamless onboarding and coaching

Once all stakeholders finalize a candidate, the focus must shift to ensuring a seamless onboarding process. Often overlooked, this is a vital step to make sure the candidate feels welcome and is aligned with the inner workings of the organization. Though time-consuming, it proves to be hugely beneficial in the long run. Onboarding is not restricted to the paperwork. It also involves consistent coaching before and after onboarding that helps the newly appointed CXO to gain clarity and take meaningful actions to further the organizational success from the very start.

Summing Up!

Hiring the right leadership requires an approach that is structured, open, and designed to meet the needs of today’s dynamic world. Collectively, all stakeholders involved in the hiring process must be on the same page. Clear and honest communication is key to any effective hiring strategy, and even more so when the stakes are this high. The approach should not just be about fulfilling a leadership role with talent but also building a relationship with them that would eventually pave the way for a long-lasting association of the candidate with your company.

(The given article is attributed to Anil Thankachan, Co-founder and Director, PeopleAsset and solely created for BW People)


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