October 31, 2022 – Smart recruiters don’t expect candidates for leadership roles to have it all. But those leaders must have a preponderance of it all and they must be able to lead it all. Any gaps or blind spots that he/she/they have must be ably or mightily filled by one of their current or prospective direct reports to mitigate and minimize organizational risk.
A new report from BroadView Talent Partners, however, says there is one corollary to this rule: A CEO absolutely must have superior communication and influencing capabilities.
“In fact, our clients have become increasingly more concerned about how CEO candidates both communicate and influence,” said the report. “That’s because the need for excellent communication skills has only become more acute given the remote work environment and other workforce paradigm shifts we have witnessed since March of 2020.”
Board directors and top leaders know and understand that superior communication skills — both written and verbal — are endemic to enduring influence and success. “The best CEOs are excellent storytellers and substantive motivational speakers,” said BroadView Talent Partners. “They believe — and history has shown — that influence is a ‘must’ if CEOs seek credibility with and followership from employees.”
The search firm says that highly influential leaders usually demonstrate the following five communication skills daily:
Succinctness ─ Successful CEOs understand the value of clear, concise communication, keeping it simplistic and digestible to minimize confusion and forestall chaos. By providing thorough and complete messages in a succinct manner, they keep employees engaged and focused. “For example, on the first day of employment, a CEO may send an email to employees briefly introducing themselves and outlining not more than three objectives on which they wish the organization or company to focus,” said the report. “Utilizing a concise message and objective, they inspire a focus on mission, customer, community, and strategic direction. It’s that simple; they not only make it easier for others to follow, they also influence others to remember key messages and act accordingly.”
Inclusion and collaboration ─ According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2016 Job Satisfaction Survey and Employee Engagement Survey, 48 percent of employees consider frequent communication from senior leadership and senior leadership vital to their ability to stay engaged. “Top-performing CEOs know that if their organization is to achieve its strategic goals and growth objectives, they must instill a sense of oneness, inclusion and collaboration to get their entire organization to think the same way,” said BroadView Talent Partners.
“For instance, at BroadView Talent, we have monthly all-hands-on-deck team calls as well as weekly best practice and innovation sessions,” said the report. “We do this to inform, update, and allow our team opportunities to ask questions, as well as collaborate on new ideas and ways to improve best-practice service to our clients.”
Affording employees opportunities to collaborate and share ideas creates a sense of teamwork and ownership. It provides insight into the organization’s goals and motivates employees to actively contribute and participate in organizational successes with their own ideas.
Proximity ─ The best leaders are approachable, available, and humble. They don’t seek to be intimidating and they don’t subscribe to the “Ivory Tower” style of leadership. “They have just as much facility when communicating with board members as they do direct reports and all levels of staff and employees,” said BroadView Talent Partners. “According to SHRM, staff engagement, employee satisfaction and organizational culture survey scores remain high when CEOs consistently and genuinely interact with their employees.”
8 Insider Tips to Ace the Executive Interview Process
Heading into the interview process can make even the most seasoned executive sweat. A new report from BroadView Talent Partners explains that when interviewing candidates, the firm uses what it describes as the 6-3-2 process. This includes a first round pool of six candidates, a second round pool of three, and a final round — with board presentations — of two finalists. “Knowing where many candidates trip up and avoiding the same mistakes can be the difference between making it to the next round of your dream job — or not,” the report said. “In the end, there can only be one winner in each and every search.”
Trustworthiness ─ Employees are more inclined to trust those CEOs who are both transparent and vulnerable. These leaders fundamentally understand that nothing erodes trust more than when employees believe CEOs and senior leadership are purposely hiding information and being obtuse about decision-making. In the SHRM survey referenced above, 94 percent of employees indicated trust between employee and senior leaders was critical, while only 62 percent actually trusted their organizational leadership. “Ultimately, transparency deepens trust and credibility in leadership,” said BroadView Talent Partners. “While there will always be confidential and proprietary conversations that cannot be disclosed, the results and outcomes often can be.”
Vulnerability ─ SHRM research says 68 percent of employees thrive on hearing their CEOs’ success stories, while 73 percent desire to learn which obstacles their CEO has overcome. “When CEOs allow themselves to be open and vulnerable, they demonstrate a genuineness and relatability that is infectious to their employees,” said the report. “Despite their successes, all CEOs have experienced adversity and setbacks. These leaders espouse a belief in and commitment to lifetime learning, laying the groundwork for continuous improvement as well as personal growth and development. Thus, the best CEOs motivate, influence, and inspire their employees by openly sharing both successes and failures.”
Founded in 2015, BroadView Talent Partners is a national executive search firm dedicated to placing leadership in affordable housing agencies, non-profit organizations, and associations, as well as middle market companies. The firm provides clients with a national network; commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and a record of long-tenured placements. Its specialties include executive search, talent acquisition, retention solutions, career management, executive coaching, and board development.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Medi