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Hiring Executive Leaders Should Be Core to Business Strategy

Hiring Executive Leaders Should Be Core to Business Strategy

From the note pad of Nichole C McDonald, SPHR

I have been a leader in human resources for over 20 years; my experience spans for profit multi-national, growth oriented, financial services, professionals, executives, strategy, talentand 8A contracting as well as local government entities.   Additionally, I spent 3 years as Chair of the Board for a for profit institution of higher education. While all of these organizations had very different business models, strategies, goals, mission and vision, the one thing they all have in common is – PEOPLE in EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP positions.

This group of leaders carries the key responsibility of guiding organizations through its business life cycle including, growth, change, scale, turnarounds, downturns, start-ups, mergers, acquisitions, expansion and some times crises management situations.

Over the course of my career, I have had the privilege of recruiting, interviewing and hiring thousands of candidates across diverse disciplines and many different types of jobs.  Employees at every level of an organization are important to the success of the enterprise.   However, executive leaders play a very critical role in the life of organizations because they set the tone, cultural and direction of the organization.  Therefore, recruiting, interviewing and hiring of executive leaders should be one of the highest priorities and given the same time and attention as revenue generation and expense management to the overall success of organizations.

Executive leaders, regardless of position on the team need to have a core set of competencies that define them as organizational leaders not just function, department or division leaders.  Interviewing and selecting these candidates requires a broad cross organizational approach which capsulate their experiences and stories over a time horizon including the people, process, systems, resources, technology, successes and failures rather than a general set of  behavioral based interview questions such as “Tell me about a time when?”.

Therefore, I recommend five cross organizational competencies that every executive leader should demonstrate in the interview and selection process regardless of type and size of organization.

Executive Leader Competencies

Communicate (clearly) to multiple stakeholders (boards, employees, investors, customers, regulators)

Risk Taker - Comfortable with making decisions, (with or without all information)

Innovate –   Create/develop new ways of solving problems

Collaborate - Elicit feedback, ideas and suggestions from all stallholders to make the most informed decisions

Lead - Ability to create a compelling story focused on the future where others get excited and want to be part of the success.

Of course there are many more competencies that can be used in the selection of executive leaders; however, these five can help an organization of any size evaluate its key leaders using a common language.

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Nichole McDonald, SPHR

Nichole C. McDonald, SPHR senior vice president, Human Resources, has more than 20 years of experience in senior leadership roles in human capital management. She is responsible for leading Laureate Higher Education Group’s human capital management strategy. This includes managing the areas of talent acquisition, talent development and organization effectiveness and retention. Throughout her career, she has worked in strategic positions where building teams, systems and processes have been of critical importance to organizational growth. During her tenure at Laureate, Nichole has led the people integration process for 14 acquisitions, growing the workforce to over 7,800 employees worldwide. This includes 9 locations in North America and sites in the Netherlands, Poland, Australia, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and New Zealand. She currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for New School of Architecture & Design in San Diego, CA. Nichole holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park, Maryland. She is an active member of the Society of Human Resources Management.

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