As Executive Search Consultants our clients rely on us to make recommendations on hiring the best and filtering out the mediocre. A common misconception is that a recruiting firms purpose is to forward 20 resumes hoping the spray and pray method works but that thought comes and goes quickly when you’re hiring an Executive Search Consultant to not only allure an Executive that wouldn’t normally give you the time of the day, but to also force rank the true top seeded leaders limiting the exposure of making a bad decision.
As part of our vetting process for Executives, their career information and interview details are shared amongst the Executive Search Team along with the input from the founding partners of JMJ Phillip whom are considered some of the top talent and business evaluators in the country. The round table discussions of each candidate often begins with the comment, “An Inch Deep and a Mile Wide”. Below we will tell you more why this has become more of a problem for corporations seeking new leaders in recent years.
What we want to know is what happened to the CEO \COO \ SVP \VP \ Director that was not only well rounded but could also dive into details with a keen understanding of those topics? It seems with the recent explosion of the “MBA” the educational process may have left us with some book savvy leaders but they often lack the focus or know-how to tackle a multitude of complex problems. Many of the future Executives can scratch the surface of a thousand topics but are a master of none. Sure, maybe your organization is large enough to hire 1,000 experts to dig deeper, but what if you don’t have that luxury?
As we conduct a search and weed out the mediocre, we constantly strive to see through the BS and find the leaders that know how to ask the right questions so they can get the information they need to make the correct decision. It’s not the easiest thing to do, let me tell you, as every college graduate in the last 15 years seems to think “I can run the company just by looking at the numbers”. And, although that statement can be true, is it that type of thinking that has made Google or Toyota so successful?
To run the company by the numbers thinking has sunk more than a few companies as we all know and the pool of great leaders is shrinking. To use our manufacturing background as an example, some of the best placements we ever made were of Executives that had an engineering background starting off in R&D and moved their way up to managing a plant and on to becoming the COO\CEO. They could walk out on the floor and see the problems, ask the right questions and understand causality.
The person we were often replacing is someone that was a business major and was “taught” to run a company without ever really understanding the end to end operations. What they did know was a little sales, a little marketing, a little purchasing, a little plant management and so on. In our opinion that works great when running a Subway Franchise, but not so great when running a $200MM Manufacturing Company.
Just the little things you learn along the way allow you to be a better leader. How many engineers recall the sales team making promises to customers which resulted in you staying until 6pm every night trying to get a product designed or the plant manager that had to open a window in the production schedule to get the hot job though? All invaluable lessons because these are just some of the things you deal with as a leader.
Now everyone is different. There are the MBA types out there that will blow your socks off, the truly amazing top 5% types so we are not discounting them. In the end if our clients are not looking to tackle a certain problem where an executive needs to focus solely on let’s say, driving sales, the balance are seeking someone that can still roll their sleeves up and solve problems, drive efficiency and contribute to profitable ideas directly.
So what’s the “tell” on whether or not you’re about to hire the Inch Deep, Mile Wide type? Our philosophy is if they talk about constantly referring to others as the doer you may want to think twice. We put an immense amount of pressure on prospective candidates to find out what they accomplished, not what they had others accomplish. We don’t accept politician answers where answers are diverted, we will repeat the question until we get the information we need. It’s not the most pleasant way to do business day in and day out but in the end our clients get to make a great hire and there is a great sense of pride in that throughout our entire team.