With Brexit occupying the front pages of national and global newspapers for weeks now, there’s a real sense of uncertainty in the air.
In fact, it’s gotten to a point where it’s actually impacting our mental health. According to A Britain Thinks poll taken last week, 83% of the 2,000 or so respondents said they are sick of hearing about Brexit, and 64% thought it was damaging their mental health.
And despite all the recent chatter, organisations are still largely in the dark about how the Brexit deal (or no deal) will impact business as usual. For instance, if trading in the UK becomes too expensive, we could see a large number of international firms choosing to base their European operations in mainland Europe instead. On the other side of the coin, we could just as easily see organisations looking to increase their investment in the UK. It’s all up in the air!
To find out what changes are currently taking place in the executive search market, we caught up with Dan for an inside peak into the C-Suite.
Agile businesses need agile leaders
While Dan might lack the clairvoyant abilities to accurately predict the Brexit outcome, he knows exactly what organisations need right now – and that’s good leadership!
“To cope with change and stay competitive, businesses need to be agile – and this sharp injection of agility needs to come from the top down.”
“A good leader is comfortable navigating their way through today’s ever-changing business landscape,” says Dan. “They need to be confident thinking on their feet and making real-time business decisions.”
“And to make well-informed and strategic business decisions, leaders need to be able to analyse and interpret ambiguous and abstract data,” he says. “Data really is the new oil!”
Diversity IS a big deal
In the last few years, there’s been increased pressure on organisations to diversify their leadership teams.
“Diversity has become a big deal for a lot of my clients,” says Dan. “The vast majority of organisations I’m working with have very specific KPIs and targets in place. For example, some of my clients are demanding a 50/50 split between male and female candidates in the longlist and the shortlist.”
“While this approach is well-intentioned and, in some cases, very necessary, from my experience there’s far more to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture than putting a few quotas in place.”
And the statistics tend to agree with him. Despite governmental pressure on FTSE 100 companies to increase the diversity of board-level leaders, gender diversity in executive-level leadership is now moving backwards in more industries than forwards. According to Cranfield University, 29% of FTSE 100 directors are female, up from 27.7% last year. Yet, when it comes to executive directors, just under 10% are female – a statistic that has barely moved in the last decade.
“The harsh reality is, even if your list of potential candidates is diverse, or even if you’re hiring a lot of people from diverse backgrounds, if your workplace culture isn’t inclusive these people will leave and go elsewhere.”
“It might not be as straightforward as a quota, but creating a culture that supports diversity is where you can make an actual change in your organisation.”
Organisations want greater transparency
When it comes to finding new executive leaders, the stakes are already high enough; a bad hire can have a negative impact on employee morale, brand reputation and your bottom line.
“Finding senior leaders is challenging enough as it is, the last thing organisations need is executive search firms plying them with hidden costs and complex, percentage-based pricing plans,” says Dan.
“Instead, organisations are favouring more transparent service offerings. They want to know exactly what you can offer them, how you’re going to do it and how much it’s going to cost before they sign the dotted line.”
To ensure they’re taking on board the right talent, many organisations are demanding the executive search firms they work with provide more than simply introducing them to new talent, Dan points out.
“Organisations want leadership assessments, psychometric tools, succession planning and executive coaching to aid in both the hiring and the on-boarding process. They also want to be actively involved in the process too, with many of my clients appreciating live data and results so that they can keep track of their progress.”
For more trends and insights into the executive search market, get in touch with Dan today on X.