At first glance this question might appear presumptuous. It is a fundamentally important aspect of how a strong relationship with an Executive Search Partner can benefit an organisation.
As Rob Briner, Professor of Organisational Psychology at the Queen Mary University of London’s School of Management, points out: “to say ‘we want the best person for the job’ subconsciously presumes some objective hierarchy of talent exists when it comes to the next executive superstar, rather than this being context-dependent”.
Sometimes it is too easy to fall into the trap of simply upgrading the current candidate profile by adding extra elements that are seen as contributing to the next candidate being able to deliver a stellar performance. This is a largely context-independent approach.
To quote Professor Briner: “You have to stand back and consider whether you need the actual best person, which is a slippery concept, or someone who can do a really good job. Because they are – or can be (my addition) – two completely different things”.
That pushes the responsibility back onto people to decide: what is it we actually want here? This can be challenging, not only because it is not difficult to get distracted by the concept of the superstar vision, but also because it means that it is necessary to think not only about the role, but the context too.
How the Executive Search Consultant can add value
And this is where the Executive Search Consultant should contribute. At Horton International, our business experience underpins our client relationships. We work with our clients as partners. This approach demands significant investment in understanding the client, their business, culture, and what their real requirements are.
We have evolved a more strategic and holistic approach to our service. One that focuses on satisfying the real needs, not just the delivering of bodies for a shortlist. The experience and knowledge of our consultants enables us to have meaningful and constructive discussions with our clients. This ensures that there is mutual agreement, combining context and profile, on what the requirement actually is and to contribute to the subsequent definition of what the optimal candidate might look like.
Diversity in Executive Search
Elisabeth Kelan, Professor of Leadership and Director of the Global Centre for Gender and Leadership at Cranfield School of Management, believes that “Much executive search is still happening via cosy conversations in private members’ clubs over a huge glass of whisky,” This, she says, is why diversity is still so overlooked.
This is a dated concept of what Executive Search should be and comes into the “little black book” era of recruitment. Which, as Professor of Business Psychology at UCL, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic points out “the executive search firm’s little black book of contacts looks increasingly obsolete”; it is not yet dead, but will be soon.
How we work at Horton International
At Horton International, we never compromise on our pursuit of excellence in all that we do. If our client wants to recruit a photographer, we do not put forward just anyone with a camera. Once the basics of the requirements are defined and agreed, we use all our resources to identify suitable candidates. We research internationally and do fresh research for every assignment. We do not recycle the same faces again and again, which has been a not uncommon characteristic of Executive Search in the whisky and black book era.