10 Leadership Qualities to Look for In Your Next Executive Search

In a new report, Bruce Powell, co-founder of IQ Partners, reveals the key ingredients to look for in a leader for your organization. Vision, transparency and communication are at the top of his list of 10 key leadership qualities.

February 18, 2020 – Executive-level talent can have a huge impact on the success of an organization. These individuals affect the culture, performance and perception of every business. So it is that finding the right people to lead and represent your brand is the most significant decision any top leader, board or head of talent will make. Employers typically use an executive search firm when a top job opening is important enough, senior enough and when discretion is at a premium. These three factors warrant the investment of bringing in a search firm.

Recruiting top performers, according to the best search consultants who ply their trade day in and day out, is an exacting science – it is labor intensive, complex and requires a rare set of people skills and business expertise. This is a big part of why recruiters are in hot demand today.

Bruce Powell knows about finding top talent for organizations. He co-founded executive search firm IQ PARTNERS in 2001 and currently operates as managing partner. His personal background includes hands-on management experience in sales, marketing and marketing services. He has built management teams for a wide variety of mar/com, media and technology companies, and has also participated in several M&A transactions for service-based companies.

Mr. Powell is an advocate of “smart people” and humble intelligence. He’s a passionate entrepreneur and takes satisfaction in helping growth companies achieve success. In a newly released report Mr. Powell addressed what a leader for your organization should look like as well as the characteristics and qualities they must have. Mr. Powell outlined some of the top leadership qualities to look for in your next executive search:

1. Vision

“Great leaders have a vision,” Mr. Powell said. “They know what they want to achieve, and they are effective at communicating this purpose to the rest of the organization. They have a passion for this vision, they champion it, and they make it clear how each person in the company fits into this vision.”

2. Transparency

Top leaders are transparent. “They make it clear what their intention and goals are for the company,” said Mr. Powell. “They don’t mince words and they are upfront and honest with people. You know where you stand with them. They are good at explaining what needs to be accomplished and why.

3. Exceptional Communicator

“In order to speak the word about their vision, executives need to be great communicators,” Mr. Powell said. “They need to be able to regularly communicate strategies, goals and objectives that get employees excited and motivated. They can get their team to buy in and become engaged.”

Great leaders are not only great at communicating their vision, but they are also great listeners. “They are willing to listen to alternative perspectives,” said Mr. Powell. “They offer employees the opportunity to give their input. Communication is a two-way street.”


Executive Search 101: Back to Basics

The executive search process varies little from search firm to search firm. Every time they conduct a senior-level executive assignment, executive recruiters follow the same basic search process.

“Of course, since the retained search process and the pricing look pretty much the same at most traditional recruiting firms, it can be challenging for executive search buyers to figure out which firm to select,” said Krista Bradford, founder and CEO of The Good Search, in a newly-released report. But before we get into the nuances, you first must learn some basic steps.


4. Self-Motivation

You want a leadership team that is motivated to achieve. “Top executives have internal motivation,” Mr. Powell said. “They have an internal fire to be successful. This is their driving force to help your company achieve business objectives. Self-motivated leaders love what they do. If their core values are aligned with your company culture, they can achieve great things.”

 5. Self-Awareness

Ego can be an issue at the executive level. Many executives allow their ego to take over, which can have a negative effect on your company. “Look for people who are self-aware and know how to check their ego,” said Mr. Powell. “They can accept they won’t always be right and there are better ways to do things. These people will have a company-first approach in everything they do. They will encourage others to strive for great things and won’t feel threatened by up-and-coming talent internally.”

6. Adaptive to Change

The business world is always changing. There are new ways to do business, innovations, new risks, threats, new markets and competitors. “Top executives understand the changing landscape of your industry, and they are ready and willing to change when needed,” said Mr. Powell. “They are open to new ideas, they are proactive and have their finger on the pulse of new trends.”

7. Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

According to executive recruiters, emotionally intelligent people are in high demand. “New skills can be taught,” Mr. Powell said. “Emotional intelligence is not as easy to develop. Leaders need to have compassion. They need to care about their people and make an effort to support their team.”


When to Turn to an Executive Search Firm
Employers typically use an executive search firm when a top job opening is important enough, senior enough and when discretion is at a premium. There are times when your gut simply says that a C-level executive opening will be tough to fill. Sometimes a start-up has hit the hockey-stick inflection point in its growth and needs more experienced leadership to scale. All of those are good reasons to turn to a trusted retained executive search firm. But how do you know if you’re really ready? Read on.


8.They Empower Others

Successful companies have an inclusive and collaborative culture. “Good executives foster this by empowering others,” said Mr. Powell. “They help employees reach their potential, maximize their skills and ensure new opportunities are available. They make it possible for others to have a meaningful effect on the company.”

9. They Are a Problem Solver

All companies have problems. It’s part of a leader’s role to solve these issues. “Top executive talent has a knack for overcoming obstacles and solving problems quickly and effectively,” Mr. Powell said. “They are well equipped to help your company to keep moving forward, even during turbulent times. When difficult decisions need to be made, they won’t put off making them.”

10. Accountability

If a leader is not accountable for their actions, it will be challenging to get others to do the same. “Great leaders take the brunt of the blame when things go wrong,” said Mr. Powell. “They also give credit to others when it’s due. They hold themselves accountable, and they hold others to the same high standards.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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