Category

Leadership

Traits of Transformational CEOs

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In the search for a new CEO or another C-suite executive, many companies want to find a transformational leader. There are certain characteristics of a CEO that help the company move through a transformational process or major change.

Transformational leadership involves the leader working with teams outside of their immediate self-interests. This allows the leader to identify necessary changes and create a vision to guide the transformation with their influence and inspiration. Transformational CEOs will execute this change together with committed members of a group.

Even if your company doesn’t currently have any major changes planned, hiring a transformational CEO allows you to prepare for unexpected changes. It also allows for continuity of leadership. The following are traits of transformational CEOs to look for during the recruiting process.

Honesty

Transformational CEOs should be honest and have integrity. These traits allow them to get others to trust them immediately, encouraging others to follow their lead. This, in turn, means that team members naturally want to follow the CEO’s guidance during the change.

Innovation

Innovation is an essential part of any major change in a company, making this another essential trait for transformational CEOs. These executives also push their team to be innovative. Specifically, they push for smart innovations that focus on offering solutions to customers’ problems.

Curiosity

The innovation that drives transformational CEOs does not have to come purely from their intelligence. It is more important that they are curious than being the smartest person in the room. This curiosity allows them to inspire the greatest minds in the company.

Ability to View Complex Problems at Multiple Levels

Transformational CEOs work to guide the entire company through changes, which require them to view problems at every level. They need to have the ability to view complex problems from various perspectives. For example, they will evaluate an issue from their perspective as well as those of the competition, current and future employees, customers, and the board.

Modesty

The ability to have multiple perspectives is not just in the case of issues. Transformational CEOs can do this regularly. They can listen to customers and gain insights into their needs. This ability gives the company marketing advantages.

Being Go-to Sources

Because of their ability to gather multiple perspectives, transformational CEOs become go-to sources for anyone looking for insights. These include peers, competitors, customers, and even the media.

Having a Model for Success

Transformational CEOs have an established model for success. They have used this model in the past and can explain it in a way that makes it seem simple, even to those who are unfamiliar with it.

Spotting Great Talent

Transformational CEOs also have the ability to spot great talent. They can recognize the passion, talent, and skills in people they come across and know how to put that to use for the company. This reduces the number of new talent companies has to recruit during a transformational period

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Essential Questions to Ask During a C-Level interview

By | Career Guidance, Corporate Culture, Hiring Strategies, Interviews, Leadership | No Comments

A structured approach that focuses on research, networking, reference development, and rehearsal is the key to more successful C-level interviews. There are some differences in preparing for a C-level interview versus an entry-level one. In addition to showing your knowledge, skills, and experience, communicate your leadership style. Asking intelligent questions can also make you stand out. Executive recruiters recommend these, along with a few other tips.

  • What trends are you following that could influence this organization’s goals and priorities?
  • If I am hired as your executive assistant, what do you see as the most significant challenges in working to fulfill the goals of this organization?
  • What are some significant milestones that will be used to evaluate my performance?
  • Can you describe the work culture and environment here?
  • What are some of this company’s most significant achievements recently?
  • What leadership style wouldn’t be conducive to this company?
  • What would the typical workday be like for an executive assistant here?
  • What communication tools, professional development, etc., are available to employees?

Although this certainly isn’t a comprehensive list, it does represent some thoughtful questions that will help gain helpful insight regarding the expectations of these high-level positions. It’s a red flag when candidates don’t have any questions during an interview.

Research Industry Trends

Another effective way to connect with an interviewer and show that you are prepared to meet their organizational needs is by researching emerging trends from around the industry. Candidates are always encouraged to review annual reports, news articles, and videos when meeting with a hiring manager. Knowing about trends can also help you answer probing questions like why you want to work in this industry.

Reference Development

C-suite candidates have to be very selective when providing suitable references. Although any former colleague might work for an entry-level job, considerations need to be respected and relevant for executive-level managers. Only use people who can constructively describe your work ethic, leadership characteristics, strengths, and ability to work under pressure.

Although it’s still important to highlight your skills and experience, asking essential questions during a C-level interview is the best way to learn if it’s the right fit for you. Researching industry trends can help you create solid queries and respond to them intelligibly. Finally, focus on providing only trusted references you know could handle open-ended questions about your leadership qualifications.

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Executive Retirement

Adapting to Executives Facing Retirement

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Retirement is something that impacts small, mid-size, and big businesses alike. It can be difficult for some leaders to give up control over something they’ve worked so hard to build. Approximately 12 million Baby Boomers also happen to be executives and business owners, and most of them will be eligible for retirement in the foreseeable future. Yet, close to half of CEOs still don’t have transition plans for when they leave. Below are some potential exit strategies that can help businesses maintain value and adapt to executives facing retirement.

Develop a Plan

Perhaps this is the best advice that executive recruiters can offer to owners and leaders considering retirement. Rather than continue working in the business, start working on it by focusing on other responsibilities that can help grow it, like marketing. The decision to either sell the business or transfer ownership to current employees gets more accessible when the right employees are hired and appropriately trained. Then, organizations should model a plan similar to this for managing the wave of retiring workers.

  1. Decide organizational goals. Surveys and focus groups are effective ways to discover what the needs of employees and the company are.
  2. Determine what you want from employees. Do you want to promote internally for C-suite positions or recruit external candidates? Even though external candidates tend to have more experience, employment data suggests that they are more likely to be fired than those hired from within.
  3. Aggressively promote the succession plan. Ensure that employees understand eligibility by holding educational meetings.

 Recruit Successors Earlier

It’s easier for organizations to prepare for retirements than other forms of turnover because they can usually predict the who and when. Multilevel succession plans can help small businesses develop talent to hedge against executives retiring. Alternatively, companies can partner with C-level recruiters to hire a successor as soon as possible to shadow the outgoing executive and gain knowledge transfer.

To Retire or Not to Retire

For those executives unsure if now is the right time to exit the workforce, some red flags can help. For instance, retirement might be the best option if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing or don’t feel challenged anymore. Other people opt for retirement for personal reasons such as health, family obligations, etc. Some industries are evolving so rapidly that businesses could benefit from fresh leadership.

A strong succession plan is the best way for businesses to overcome the wave of retiring executives. It should combine transparent retirement policies and internal successor development programs. Otherwise, recruiters are yet another valuable resource that can help you adapt.

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Management

Why Managers Should Never Eat Alone

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As a leader, you want your employees to know that you value their opinions and see them as people. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate this is to have lunch with them regularly. Managers who eat with their team members receive various potential benefits, such as higher employee retention and improved performance. Lunchtime is also one of the best times to build your network. This is especially true in the C-suite, where relationship-building is extremely important.

 

Improve Retention

Not liking their manager is one of the most common reasons people quit jobs. Taking the time to talk with your employees and demonstrate you empathize with them and care about their success will instantly make you a likable leader. This is why you should never eat alone. Eating lunch with your team members is an excellent opportunity to socialize with them and get to know them on a more personal level. Build a connection with your team so they will want to work for you. 

 

Improve Team Performance 

 Employees who feel a connection to their team and to their managers are more driven to succeed. When team members eat alongside their managers, they feel seen. By connecting with your team on their level and in an informal setting, you will build trust and loyalty. Eating lunch as a group makes sure everyone feels included, which makes people want to do better and contribute to the group’s success. 

 

Build Your Network

 Eating lunch with others is also a great way to grow your professional network. Networking is most successful when it is based on authentic relationship building and isn’t just networking for the sake of networking. Most networking nowadays has moved online, yet nothing is as powerful as face-to-face conversations. When you eat together, you form relationships built on genuine camaraderie and respect. The relationships you create at the lunch table are much more meaningful than ones limited to online communication. 

 

Enhance Your Mood

 Another reason you should never eat alone is that it is simply more enjoyable to eat in the company of others. Eating in a large group enhances mood and makes people feel happier. If you always eat alone, you may eventually start to feel lonely and excluded. Even managers need to take a break from constantly thinking about work. Lunch breaks are a chance to give your brain a rest from work stress and to let loose. This can be a lifesaver when it comes to mental health.

 

While many managers are in the habit of eating lunch alone, a lot of good can come from making a point never to eat alone. On the one hand, this habit will help you build a connection with your team, improving employee retention and team performance. On the other hand, it can help you grow your network while enhancing your mood and reducing stress. 

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Onboarding, C-Level

Tips for Managing the Executive Onboarding Journey

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You may be surprised to learn that many executives in the United States don’t undergo formal onboarding when they begin a job. This lack of support may explain why 40% of new leaders leave within the first two years of starting a new job. These tips can help improve the executive onboarding journey.

Communication about Roles and Expectations

New hires are unlikely to succeed without clear and transparent expectations. While new leaders need to understand their responsibilities clearly, they especially need to know what to expect from their team members, peers, and mentors. Once hired, leaders will have to meet and interact with many new people. The more they know about all these individuals, the better off they are. Communicating these expectations allows hires to prepare, making good impressions early on, and starting on the right foot.

Education about Company Goals and Values

One of the main reasons so many leaders struggles when they start a new job is that they don’t know enough about its goals and values. An effective onboarding strategy for leaders will allow hires to gain in-depth knowledge about what is important to the company. This will help the hire feel more connected to the organization and give them a sense of purpose.

Education about Internal Processes

Even if they held a similar position at a different company, your organization’s internal process might differ drastically from what the new hire is used to. This is one reason starting a new job in a position of leadership can be overwhelming. As you develop your onboarding strategy, make sure to identify key aspects of your company’s internal process that new hires will benefit from knowing about. It is also important to check in with new hires regularly to make sure they are not confused about any internal process. Regular check-ins are crucial in monitoring how well hires adjust to their new work environment. 

Integration into the Management Team

One of the hardest aspects of starting a new job is integrating into the team. This can be even harder at the executive level because the team is smaller. Team building activities are a key part of any executive onboarding strategy. The new hire needs chances to socialize with other executives and start to build a relationship with them. This will allow the team to develop mutual trust, which is of great importance at the executive level. Any person in a leadership position who feels like an outsider will not stay long, so integration into the management team has to be a top priority for new hires.

Beginning a job as part of the C-suite isn’t easy. New hires are given a lot of responsibility early on and have to adjust to a new culture, new company processes, new team members, and so much more. Moreover, many don’t receive a real onboarding experience. To improve the chances that a hire will succeed as an executive, communicate clear expectations, educate them about company goals and internal processes, and integrate them into the management team early on in the process.

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Customer Service

C-Suite Executives Affect Customer Service

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Companies are well aware that delivering strong customer service is essential to customer satisfaction. It affects a company’s reputation, as well as the average lifetime value of customers or clients.

One aspect of customer service that is not always as obvious is the impact that C-suite executives have on customer service. To maximize customer service, C-suite executives should consider the following steps.

C-Suite Executives Should Focus on Employee Engagement to Promote Customer Service

Satisfied and engaged employees tend to deliver better customer service. As such, savvy C-suite executives listen to their employees and encourage feedback. Research shows that companies with higher ratings for customer experience tend to have more engaged employees. They also tend to have more collaborations with HR.

Essentially, engaged and happy employees have a higher willingness to resolve customer issues. They will go out of their way to deliver the best possible customer experience.

C-Suite Executives Should Encourage Meaningful Connections

Another action that C-suite executives can take is to ensure that the company uses social media channels and reviews to create meaningful connections with clients. C-suite executives who incorporate this strategy will notice that consumers are more emotionally engaged with the brand. Research has shown that high engagement translates into more sales.

C-Suite Executives Should Integrate Silos

C-suite executives should also take the time to address any silos, or isolated divisions, within their organization. There are several aspects to this. To begin, silos reduce the level of employee engagement, as employees in siloed departments may not feel as appreciated.

Additionally, it is nearly impossible to ensure consistent messaging when there are siloes within a company. This is crucial, as customers will have an improved experience if messaging is consistent. Consistent messaging ensures that your product design team can deliver what the sales or marketing teams promise. Inconsistent messaging can lead to confusion and disappointment.

C-Suite Executives Should Understand Their Audiences

Any C-suite executive hopefully realizes that their marketing team must understand the audience to appeal to them. However, more than just the marketing team needs to have this understanding. The product design team needs it to create products that customers want.

Most importantly, the C-suite executives need this understanding themselves. C-suite executives are in control of the overall direction of the company. To move the company in the direction that your customers want, you must understand their needs and goals.

The C-Suite Can Include a Chief Customer Officer

The actions of all C-suite executives can affect the customer experience. That being said, many companies have chosen to have a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) who focuses on this. In the case of a CCO, other C-suite executives keep the elements of this list in mind at all times, but the CCO focuses on them.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Hire the Unconventional Choice

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The benefits of new perspective are innumerable. However, to make a real difference in a business, hiring one nontraditional candidate probably won’t suffice. Companies must proactively seek this type of candidate every time.

Unconventional Choices Expand Your Talent Reach

Strict instructions for the type of hire you are looking for can limit your talent pool. Today, many job seekers hire someone to post their resumes for them. Basing the hiring process on how a resume looks and reads could mean you hire someone that isn’t who you thought they were.

Looking for a candidate with a specific degree or years of working experience in a similar field, for example, automatically closes out the opportunity for the unconventional choice. Instead, expand your reach and begin looking at resumes focused on your company’s values rather than only job experience in the field.

Often, you’ll find someone with transferrable skills and a passion for continuous learning that will open your business up to a whole new world of creativity and work ethic.

Bringing New Ideas to the Table

The unconventional choice is someone with a diverse or different background from what your company traditionally seeks in a new hire. Hiring someone based on their potential opens up the business to a fresh and unique perspective. They can more easily think “outside of the box” because they have experience solving problems differently.

Thus, the unconventional choice can potentially:

  • Cut down project times
  • Create new solutions yet to be thought of by anyone else
  • Increase worker efficiency
  • Encourage other workers to test the limits of creativity

Unconventional Choices Help to Diversify Your Customer Base

Your employee base should be equally or more diverse than your customer base. A diverse employee roster means the potential to form relationships with every type of customer increases. This is especially true for any business that deals directly with the customer.

Maybe the unconventional choice has experienced highs and lows that your other employees have not. This background gives them a greater opportunity to connect with different customers because they have direct experiences with their issues.

This type of thinking also impacts advertising and sales. For example, an advertising idea could connect with the customers in ways that the traditional employee can’t because they don’t have the same experiences.

According to Harvard Business Review, hiring random people for the job in hopes of diversifying your company won’t produce benefits on its own. You must have a strategy in place. Focus on getting to know a new hire’s potential and deciding how that potential best fits the company.

These changes can all help boost your business in different ways because you took a chance on the unconventional choice.

 

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Why a Vacation Might Be the Right Decision

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After a less than normal 2020 year and many people in America going without work or travel for much of the year, 2021 summer vacations look a bit more promising.

Even before the global pandemic, Americans had 768 million unused vacation days in 2019. It’s time to take those vacation days back! Studies show it’s not only great for employees’ mental and physical health, but it’s essential for productivity as well.

Used Vacation Days Increases Productivity 

According to multiple studies, the work martyr trend continues to gain popularity, and Millennials are some of the main culprits since they now make up much of the workforce. From 1978 to 2000, Americans took an average of 20 vacation days per year, which plummeted to 16 days in 2014. Interestingly, new research points out that taking time off work can improve workforce efficiency.

The Wall Street Journal states that workers that take appropriate time off are healthier than workers that don’t, and healthier workers are more productive. Therefore, companies should urge their employees to use more time off each year.

Companies like Netflix, Glassdoor, and Dropbox first initiated the “Unlimited PTO” trend because they believe that employees that feel cared for work harder and better. They believe that efficient work requires sufficient vacationing to recharge and perform at their best, leaving how long to vacation up to the employee.

Many other companies started softly mandating their employees to take a minimum of two to three weeks off per year. If the employee doesn’t take time off, their boss is supposed to bring it up during their yearly review.

Vacation Days Improves Employee Mental and Physical Health

Not only are vacation days essential for productivity, but they are also essential for worker mental health. The US Travel Association found that taking the proper amount of vacation time improves the worker’s happiness with:

  • Their career
  • The company where they work
  • Personal and coworker relationships
  • Physical health and well-being

When employees are happy, their anxiety and depression symptoms subside as well. According to Corporate Wellness, rested employees are productive employees, but they are also physically and mentally healthier employees.

A Psychosomatic Medicine study, conducted over nine years, found that regular vacations reduce the risk of heart disease in men and women.

Why Employees Still Don’t Take a Vacation

By now, it is a well-known fact that employers want their employees to take vacations, and employees themselves want to vacation. So why aren’t employees taking advantage of their PTO?

Aside from the work martyr complex, here are a few reasons employees work through their vacation days:

  • Feeling guilty for making their coworkers pick up the slack while they’re gone
  • Fearing they won’t receive a promotion if it looks like they are always gone
  • They have no one willing or able to take time off with them
  • Pressures from bosses to meet deadlines
  • Concerned about how much a vacation costs

Most of these fears are anxiety-based. In reality, well-planned vacation time can debunk all of these fears and benefit the employee, coworkers, and business.

The US Travel Association also wants you to save the date for National #PlanForVacation Day on January 25, 2022. Everyone is invited to take time to travel and regroup for the coming year. It’s about time American workers cut into the 768 million unused vacation day tally.

 

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Invest in Your Employees to Help Them Thrive

By | Career Guidance, Industry Trends, Leadership, Training | No Comments

People hire great candidates, and then won’t get them the required licenses or tools they need to succeed in the industry. It’s up to you to remove these barriers to success by making strategic investments in employee engagement, professional development, advanced technology, and mentoring. Start by recruiting the best candidates, then enhance their opportunities for success using some of these strategies.

Spend Time with Every Employee

Too many organizations put the needs of their customers before their employees. Great leaders understand the importance of investing heavily in their employees, and the best way to find what employees need to succeed is to go directly to the source.

Great leadership styles prioritize spending personal time with employees to build relationships and ensure alignment. Studies even suggest that leaders should spend up to six hours per week interacting with their employees to boost inspiration, engagement, and motivation. Even ten minutes spent with seven people each week can be an effective way to connect with employees. From taking employees out to lunch to inviting them to conferences, personal time investments are the most valuable because they help create a trusting work environment.

Planning

Remote workers also need engagement. How do you do it? A growing number of organizations are appointing Chief Fun Officers to encourage teamwork and enjoyment. Just three or four minutes can change the whole outcome of the day by transforming a hostile work environment into a positive one. Leaders must work through this by setting up zoom meetings, communicating with employees while walking down the hall, and visiting employees where they are. If you ask them to come to you, consider how that impacts them.

Focus on Employee Development 

Training employees and having them leave is better than not developing them and staying with your company. It’s imperative to show new hires that you are dedicated to employee development to keep them from seeking other jobs where their development is central. If you want to be known as an employer who cares, create an environment that promotes continual improvement. These companies win in the end with rosters of loyal, exceptional employees.

If you want to attract and retain better employees, then it’s never too late to start investing in your human resources. Personal time investments are an excellent place to start. Then, focus more on keeping your remote employees engaged. Don’t overlook the power of ongoing employee development, either.

 

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New Leadership Help Lead Companies Through Hypergrowth

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VimpelCom and Compass are both companies that experienced rapid growth around their initial product offering periods. Hypergrowth can be incredibly challenging, with every meeting seeming to focus on overcoming obstacles. Shortages in staffing and network capacity seem to exacerbate the problems.

With proper management and organization, companies can successfully navigate hypergrowth. In some ways, start-ups have an advantage over established companies when it comes to hypergrowth, as they are more flexible and management sits at the top. However, when the right people are in place, midsize and large-size companies can successfully navigate hypergrowth.

The Impact of the Compass CFO

Compass is a company offering digital tools for real estate agents. Kristen Ankerbrandt joined the team as its CFO in 2018. This followed her 12 years of experience at the Carlyle Group and time as a Goldman Sachs investment banker.

Ankerbrandt had extensive experience with acquisitions and mergers, which she applied to Compass. The most relevant of this was her experience with tech companies and investors during growth periods. According to Ankerbrandt, the most vital characteristics of a successful CFO in this position are managing well and being direct.

Her leadership was critical during this time of expansion and growth.

The Impact of the VimpelCom CEO

Compass faced similar challenges during times of hypergrowth during its adoption of cellphones in the Soviet bloc. To prepare for this growth, Alexander V. Izosimov joined the team as the CEO, focusing on management basics.

According to Harvard Business Review, when Izosimov joined the team, all meetings were crisis meetings, with decisions made in panic mode. According to Izosimov, a combination of solid culture and his management strategies helped the company thrive.

Some of those management principles included selling first and asking questions later, not over-focusing on innovation, organizing “like McDonald’s,” having the front line handle decisions, and creating a “can-do culture.”

Do Not Neglect the Rest of the Team

In addition to hiring the right C-level executives for your company’s rapid growth, companies in this phase should prioritize hiring qualified talent for other roles. Remember that one of the many challenges companies in this phase frequently face is low staffing, so an effective hiring strategy is critical.

According to Forbes, the best strategy to find an ideal team includes creating a relationship with the company’s hiring managers, increasing inbound methods of finding talent, and following up on slow hiring processes. Additionally, working with industry-specific recruiters can provide you a competitive edge when successful hiring is crucial.

How to Follow their Example

Both Compass and VimpelCom recognized that to get through hypergrowth periods, they needed strong management with excellent organizational skills. This is an example that all midsize to large companies should follow when focusing on hypergrowth – find the proper C-level executives to provide the necessary organizational leadership.

 

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