CEO Considerations

Human resources and corporate hierarchy concept - recruiter complete team by one leader person (CEO) represented by gold cube and icon.

When we think of best practices for purposes of recruitment and selection, the following items are usually included during the candidate selection process:

  • Evidence of previous performance
  • Evidence of required skills
  • Evidence of required attributes

All of this helps the Human Resources professional guide the recruitment process through objective, evidence-based criteria in order to ensure a fair process for everyone involved.

When embarking on the recruitment process for the organization’s CEO, it would seem that these best practices would be more important than ever. When recruiting for the top job, should the recruiter not be using their top practices and procedures?

Apparently not.

According to a recent article posted in Canadian Business, some strategic recruitment best practices need to be set aside in order to get the right person into the most senior of the organization’s roles.

Chance and luck seem to take priority over traditional recruitment strategies.

Click here to read the article.

The concept that past behaviour predicts future behaviour may not apply when looking at the organizational performance record of the CEO candidate. The article argues that past organizational performance may have nothing to do with the individual and everything to do with chance. Further, the fact that the typical tenure for a CEO is around four years indicates that the role has much less time to influence the organization’s success for the long term. This would leave a good news/bad news scenario for the person coming into the role of CEO.

If the incoming CEO inherits an organizational mess, they do not have enough to clean it up. If they inherit a smoothly running system, they do not have enough time to mess it up.

Having said that, the article goes on to state that luck also comes into play. The CEO recruitment process appears to depend on who is in the right place at the right time for consideration based on where the information sits in a headhunter’s database.

Perhaps the takeaway from all of this is that the organization is bigger than the CEO and therefore a ‘bigger’ approach is needed when looking to fill the top position.

At this level, relying on luck and chance seems a risky game to play.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you agree with the contents of this article? Why or why not?
  2. What could you do as a professional headhunter to reduce the risks of luck and chance when recruiting for a CEO?
  3. Which recruitment best practices do you think would be most important for selecting someone into the role of CEO?