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The seven deadly sins of appointing senior executives

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All too often organisations make the same mistakes when appointing senior executives. These ‘seven deadly sins are explained below.

1) Treating succession planning as the ‘poor relation’

While businesses invest time and financial resource in implementing and executing talent management strategies, many fail to acknowledge the importance of succession planning. Often seen as the ‘poor relation’ of talent management, succession planning is not always given the attention it deserves. If not looked at correctly, it can have severe repercussions. Ideally, succession planning should feed into a wider talent management programme and take a long-term strategic view. A key part of this needs to be establishing what future potential looks like and how it can be nurtured.

2) Focusing on current top performers

Many organisations take the approach of looking at current top performers and ear marking them for leadership. Just because an individual is, for example, performing brilliantly in a sales role, does not however mean they will excel in the areas needed for good leadership. Focusing on performance does not take into account crucial elements such as aspiration or motivation.

Another common approach businesses take is to bring people up in silos, without exposing them to other business functions and operations. Good succession planning should first identify who has potential (beyond just current performance indicators) and then look to expose these individuals to different areas of the business. For example, if they are going to be expected to manage multi-disciplined teams as a future leader, then they need to have an understanding of each of those business disciplines.

3) Hiring in your own image is a faux pas when it comes to appointing senior executives

It may be tempting to hire someone in image, but to do so may be to ignore future issues. The business world is changing – just look at the effect the digital revolution has had in recent years. Future leaders need to have the skills to operate in a brave new world and organisations need to look at the bigger picture. It may be that the current CEO is a transformative leader, who has taken the company on a journey of change. The next CEO does not necessarily need to have the same transformation skills, but instead may need more of a stabilising leadership style.

4) Looking at the job title, not the problem that needs to be solved

When it comes to appointing senior executives, rather than refreshing an overly-detailed job specification which probably hasn’t been looked at for years, organisations need to think about what problems the new recruit needs to solve. Senior leadership teams needs to ask what they want any new senior appointment to bring the team . What are the success criteria? Be equally clear about the personal characteristics needed.

Read further for three extra points on what to avoid when appointing senior executives

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