Talent-Leadership-Culture (TLC): Attracting the Right Executive Leader

ATC is proud to partner with Cendea to present the series, "Talent-Leadership-Culture (TLC)". This blog series addresses the questions and gives insight to the art of finding the RIGHT tech leader to hire at the director level and above. 
Thank you to our experts for sharing their knowledge with the tech community.

Attracting the Right Executive Leader

The Austin Technology Council recently did a survey among its membership and discovered that one of the biggest struggles they have is hiring at the Director level and above.  Many factors make it difficult to identify the RIGHT people – from the need to hire for international growth, financial issues, training up to promote from within, to simply just starting the process itself.  Then there’s the potential to utilize executive search firms – who to use and securing the budget to pay them.

Doing nothing doesn’t solve the problem when you are trying to grow.  So whether you are dealing with a start-up company or one that is expanding, one of the impediments that can cause that growth to flatline is the inability to add the key talent necessary to make that happen.  Ideas and products are great, but someone must be able to organize and properly lead the people to turn those into profit.

There are several periods on the normal growth curve where a Senior Talent Gap could seriously interfere with progress, as shown below:

Senior Talent Gaps 2

Most companies are in the business to grow over time, but exactly what does that mean?  Growth in headcount or territory or revenue? Value is often determined by the trust and respect the enterprise gains over time and also perhaps what someone would pay to buy the company or the product offering in a competitively priced market.

Far too many companies—even those with exceptional products or technology—fail to advance from Introduction to Growth to Maturity to Excellence.  And far too often, this is due to not adding the right leadership at the right time to take them to the next level.

The challenge is always to remain on the growth curve, but the roadblocks include:

  • We don’t have the resources
  • We don’t know how to get there
  • That’s someone else’s problem
  • It will just happen.

Sitting and ignoring the elephant in the room doesn’t make it go away.  You need to clear out any and all roadblocks. And if you don’t have the right people in place, then you need a clear plan to recruit them.

If you have a minor water faucet issue at home and you can fix it, you fix it.  If it’s major and you can’t fix it, then you hire a plumber. You need and want specific expertise.

It’s no different for securing the right talent—if you have the ability to go out and secure the right talent on your own, then go do it.  But remember, you should be looking to maximize shareholder value—as in a Return on Investment (ROI). And ROI means that you invested either your time or your dollars to get that return.

The old saying is very true: it takes money to make money!  If spending money produces a greater ROI, then you should be figuring out who can help you maximize that ROI.

Just as the legal profession has a spectrum of options from attorneys that focus on contracts to those who focus on real estate or M&A, finding talent has a spectrum of options from entry-level to mid-level positions to executive management.  Entry-level and many mid-level positions are typically engaged on a contingency basis, whereas executive and most key positions are usually done on a retained basis.

Just remember that you are trying to maximize the ROI on this hire.  The right hire can be tremendously rewarding—and the wrong hire can be catastrophic!  If you need help making this happen, then just like that plumbing issue, get it!

Cendea is in its 25th  year of securing great talent for great opportunities.  Please feel free to call us at 512.219.6000. Note that with the proliferation of SPAM calls these days, please leave a message for Wade Allen, President & CEO, x101, or  Jim Bledsoe, Senior Partner, x121, and we’ll call you right back!