Looking for Your Next CEO? Understand These Best Practices First - CEO Search & Recruitment

      Looking for Your Next CEO? Understand These Best Practices First

      Hiring a CEO isn’t like hiring any other employee. While it’s true that every employee has an impact on your business, CEOs have the greatest impact of all. Some research even indicates that your CEO’s performance can predict 40% of your company’s outcome.

      With that much at stake, it’s imperative to make sure you have a clear plan in place for choosing your company’s next leader.

      The right CEO can transform your company for the better, but the wrong one can undo years — or even decades — of progress. Here are some suggestions to consider as you embark on your search.

      Best Practices for Your CEO Search

      Your CEO is the captain of your business, the face of your company, and more. As you begin your search, plan for success with the following practices.

      Know What You Need in a Leader

      The best CEOs are versatile leaders. But humans aren’t robots, and every CEO has a balance of strengths and weaknesses. To get a more specific feel for what you need out of a leader, take a look at your existing C-suite executives. For instance, if most of your executives prefer to focus on the smaller details of daily operations, you’ll likely want to hire a CEO who’s a big-picture thinker.

      Of course, you want to strike a balance here. Ideally, your next CEO’s strengths will complement those of your existing team, but they won’t be so different that your CEO doesn’t mesh well with your existing employees.

      Don’t Discount the Importance of a Culture Fit

      A critical consideration is how well each CEO candidate fits with your company’s culture. A CEO must be able to relate to existing employees, and they also must be aligned with your company’s mission and goals. 

      Alignment with your business’s values is particularly important for CEO candidates who are coming from an outside organization. If your employees are familiar with your mission and you then give them a leader who seems to be that mission’s antithesis, your company may be plunged into chaos.

      If your new CEO’s cultural fit is egregiously bad, your company could also see high turnover rates. Employees may choose to work elsewhere. In severe cases, you might find yourself having to replace the new CEO very early in their tenure. Having to repeat the recruitment and hiring process can be staggeringly expensive, and it’s of course disruptive to your employees and your company as a whole.

      Start With a Detailed Search Strategy

      You need a strong executive search plan if you want to find a great leader. Before you even start your search, take the time to outline your plan. Your process will likely include the following measures:

      • Determining the key traits you’re looking for in a CEO
      • Planning how you’ll conduct your search (job listing, networking, partnering with an executive search firm, etc.) and market the role
      • Determining how you’ll further screen shortlisted candidates
      • Making a plan to run background checks and check references of shortlisted candidates

      Part of setting up your strategy is establishing your search committee. In most cases, you want your search committee to include both stakeholders and company representatives. You’ll need about five to seven people. 

      As you might imagine, it can be hard to find five to seven people who have the time to search for a CEO while also carrying out their usual responsibilities. In this case, you might find it helpful to work with an executive search firm. These firms can handle the logistics of marketing the position, recruiting, and screening candidates, but the final decision is still up to you.

      Decide on the Compensation You’re Offering

      If you want to attract and retain talented leaders, you need to make sure you’re offering competitive compensation.

      Bear in mind that “compensation” goes far beyond base pay. It generally includes these elements:

      • Annual performance bonuses
      • Longer-term incentives
      • Stock options and appreciation rights
      • Above market-rate (or at least average) base salary
      • Supplemental retirement plans
      • Smaller benefits like relocation assistance, financial planning, etc.

      Compensation does more than just entice great leaders to work with you. It also helps drive their performance. When a CEO feels valued by their company, they’re much more likely to do whatever they can to help it succeed.

      Remember That Candidates Are Vetting You Too

      Experienced CEO candidates don’t have to beg for jobs. Chances are good that the candidates you’re interested in will have their pick of companies to work for. 

      This means that you shouldn’t just be preparing to size up candidates — you should be preparing for them to size you up, too. If you want to stand out to executive candidates, two things are especially important: your company’s reputation and the strength of your brand. 

      The importance of your company’s reputation cannot be overstated. According to recent research, half of all job candidates won’t consider working for a company with a bad reputation, even if they’re offered a higher salary to do so.

      Don’t Forget to Leverage Your Professional Network

      The demand for qualified CEO candidates is high, and competition for them is fierce. One way you can increase your chances of hiring a great leader is to reach out via your professional network. 

      Networking can be a way to catch a break from all of the competition. If you just list your position on a job board, it will be one of countless opportunities. But if you reach out to a promising candidate through a business contact, that candidate is more likely to be receptive. 

      Through networking, you can even reach out to passive candidates — those who might be interested in changing jobs but who haven’t yet taken steps to do so.

      Find Your Best CEO Yet

      Recruiting and hiring a great CEO might be difficult, but it’s far from impossible. When you determine what you’re looking for in a company leader, allocate the necessary time and resources for the search, and thoroughly vet every candidate, you’ll likely find that your search is a success.

      National CEO Executive Search Firm | How We Help

      Top CEO Search Firm - CEO Recruitment - Cowen Partners

      Our hands-on CEO recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets over a billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEOChief Operating OfficerChief Financial Officer, and include vice presidentgeneral counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.

      Through our proven retained executive search process, we find, vet, and deliver the top 1% of candidates for positions across the C-suite. Our process works for all industries, including technologyhealthcaremanufacturingretailreal estatefinancial servicesprivate equity, and more.

      Learn how we deliver top talent, no matter the need, with our industry-leading research and resources. Discover the strategy behind so many glowing Cowen Partners’ reviews — and that’s made us a top retained executive search firm in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and beyond.

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