September 8, 2022 – Change can come quickly, as we have seen in 2022. Since the start of the year, the global economy has been buffeted by international conflict, supply chain shortages, mixed economic numbers, and frenetic turnover in the labor market. The C-suite has not only been expected to mitigate material risk during all this uncertainty but also to replenish their ranks due to increased attrition and expand the executive roster with a growing list of C-level roles. These developments prompted executive search firm JM Search to review the economic and workforce landscape to get a sense of where the rest of the year will take us. “With our decades of experience as an executive search firm, we have been poring over the news, statistics, and perspectives from thought leaders to gauge which 2022 executive search trends the C-suite and executive boards need to embody to thrive,” said the firm.
Here are the four touchstones that JM Search’s founder and chief executive officer, John Marshall, in a new report, says demand close attention in the months ahead:
1. Past Performance Is Not the Only Indicator of Future Results
The Economist refers to the current season as an era of “predictable unpredictability,” where watershed events can change the game with little forewarning. “Past performance will still offer analytical insight, but we’re entering a new era where precedents are not the reliable predictors they once were,” said Mr. Marshall. “When complex systems like the economy or job market bring uncertainty to the business landscape, corporations need to recruit a new generation of leaders who bring fresh, creative, and outside-the-box perspectives to the C-suite.”
The board of directors will need to prioritize leaders who work and live outside their comfort zone. In a survey co-organized by Google, they identified an essential attribute for the next generation of C-suite leaders: an experimentation mindset. According to the survey, 70 percent of executives at digitally leading companies can claim this mentality, compared to only 47 percent from digitally emerging companies. Furthermore, adaptability and innate curiosity are critical qualities for not only weathering turbulence but achieving financial, operational, and growth goals.
“Where a candidate’s previous experience with your industry, environment, or company size was once a nonnegotiable prerequisite, this is no longer always the case,” said Mr. Marshall. “Instead, in addition to the characteristics mentioned above, organizations should be evaluating executive candidates on their acumen with tried-and-true strategies, as well as their history of pioneering an effective plan of attack in novel circumstances.”
2. Surge in Demand for C-suite that Can Navigate Changing Markets
The current stock market continues to give investors mixed signals – and executives are contemplating how unpredictable the road ahead will be. A Qualtronics survey said that while 93 percent of C-suite members are concerned about a recession or further inflation, 83 percent said they expect their company revenue to increase in the next year, and 66 percent expect overall organizational growth.
“With these mixed sentiments, organizations need the right blend of executives to navigate volatile and changing market conditions,” said JM Search. “Moreover, they need to be prepared for success in both bull and bear markets. However, with increased turnover and a diversifying C-suite, organizations are faced with unprecedented demand for executive talent—and short supply.”
In the wake of the most challenging days of the pandemic, many tenured executives chose to reprioritize their lives, resigning from their positions for retirement, new opportunities, or different lines of work. A Deloitte survey found that 70 percent of the C-suite is considering quitting for a job that better supports their mental well-being. As a result, more organizations need to prepare for succession or backfill positions.
Additionally, enterprises are recognizing the value of a diversified and expanded C-suite. A LinkedIn study of hiring decisions from September 2020 to August 2021 shows a variety of positions growing in demand. A small sample includes:
– Chief diversity and inclusion officer (111 percent growth)
– Chief underwriting officer (71 percent growth)
– Chief people officer (61 percent growth)
– Chief legal officer (53 percent growth)
We’re also seeing growing demand for chief information security officers, roles that are elevating discussions about cybersecurity and helping organizations enhance their all-too-vital cyber governance.
Historically, priorities for hiring senior leadership were strongly focused on an individual’s technical (hard) skills, as well as focusing on candidates with direct industry and functional experience. This formula proved to be successful for many executive hires, but certainly not all. “Under these requirements, we saw too many losses, and sponsors and search firms were challenged over time to become more analytical to understand what truly works (and doesn’t work) when hiring individuals to successfully lead companies,” said John Marshall, co-founder and CEO of JM Search. “My personal belief is that while a tried and true playbook may have worked well in the past, today’s market landscape has grown in complexity and competition, and out-of-the-box thinking is now critical to drive results in a company,” he said.
“With such high demand, we anticipate seeing more executive teams leveraging their professional networks, exploring alternative options, and turning to trusted executive search professionals to accelerate their hiring timelines,” said Mr. Marshall.
3. Location, Location, Location
Executives are redefining the workplace of the future. Whether it’s a full return-to-office, remote model, or hybrid approach, business leaders must consider the long-term hiring implications of each and design the right model for their industry, business, culture, and even individual roles.
Two years ago, executives were grappling with how to answer the question of location. Today, they are making decisions and carving go-forward paths. That said, organizations need to remain receptive to adapting their work model if necessary, relying on a well-rounded view from the executive team. Here’s just a snapshot of the considerations:
– The fixed costs of real estate, leasing, and other physical property
– The fabric of the company culture
– Employee collaboration and engagement
– Talent acquisition
“Most all these considerations and their subsequent policies will determine the type of candidates you can attract to your business, whether they are required to maintain proximity to an office location or can function from remote offices,” said JM Search. “No one-size-fits-all approach will work, and every model must be tailored to the organization. The board must work with business leaders to build a cohesive, responsive model based on the sum of their experiences and expertise, as well as the desires of their employees and the evolving expectations of this dynamic world.”
4. Executives Increasingly Reluctant to Consider New Opportunities
Candidates, particularly passive ones, are becoming increasingly selective amid changing market environments. At the executive level, the quality of the opportunity from the standpoint of compensation, benefits packages, growth potential, company culture, and challenges is extremely important, as the costs associated with changing jobs are higher in today’s volatile market.
“This is where a trusted executive recruiter can add a lot of value, shaping the perception of C-suite candidates and aligning a company’s value proposition with a candidate’s goals and requirements,” said Mr. Marshall. “A well-seasoned executive recruiter knows how to truly partner with enterprises and candidates to ensure the best possible outcome for both, marrying together their mutual long-term success.”
“In this current type of market, many companies are having a hard time ‘closing the deal’ on their own,” said Mr. Marshall. “Even organizations with robust, experienced internal recruiting teams are finding themselves facing a great deal of unexpected occurrences and surprises that are coming up during (and after) the offer process (e.g., extensive negotiations, counteroffers, etc.). These dynamics can be extremely challenging to navigate and once again highlight how a seasoned executive search firm can add value, helping the C-suite to scale despite the challenges of the market, now and in the future.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media