3 tips to focus on the right CEO choice.

You started recently in the market and you are exceeding initial expectation.  Your startup has gained recognition and value.  You think it is ready for the next step.  It’s time to find someone to get you there.  Easier said than done.  The next CEO is either going to take your company to where you want it to go or set it back.  The choice will have an impact on the company for years to come.  Decision makers must be sure it is the right one.  Here are some tips to ease the process.

Come to a consensus.

The decision to replace the head of a company should not be made alone.  There is a Board of Directors for a reason.  Founder. Current CEO. The board.  They can’t work separately to come to terms on the future of the company.  Every executive with a vote should have a chance to express his or her opinion on what kind of person should take the reins of the company.  This open dialogue will allow the decision makers to come to a consensus about what kind of Chief Executive Officer is the best to entrust with the company’s future.

Some of the things that should result from the discussion are:

  • Does the current CEO have what it takes or is a new one needed?
  • If a new CEO is needed, can the company promote from the inside?
  • Should a recruiting firm be hired to assist the process?
  • What are the personality traits the company needs from its future leader?

Get on the recruiting path with some help

It’s time to find candidates.  Word to the wise: Don’t do it yourself and find a recruiting partner.    firms are in the business to help companies make sure they don’t get in their own way.  They provide an objective point of view that ensures the best decision is made.  Choosing the correct firm is of utmost importance.   The firms should:

  • Have experience headhunting within the company’s business sector.
  • Generate trust with the company.  The recruiting firm should make the company feel their decision is in good hands.
  • Help the company analyze and improve the criteria it has come up with for hiring the next CEO.
  • Be given detailed information on what the company needs and what it can give to the future head of the company.

A little advice:  it doesn’t hurt if you do a little research on prospective headhunting firms. Get in contact with companies they have helped and see which one suits your company’s needs the best.  

Take your pick

handshake_CEO

Image courtesy of 드림포유 at Flickr.com

Ok.  Let’s go back and see where we are in the process.  Your company has outlined the profile of the new CEO. Check.  You’ve hired a respectable and experienced recruiting firm to help you narrow the list of candidates to those who fit the criteria. Check.  Time to make a choice.  Keep in mind that the future of your company is a marathon and not a sprint.  Don’t rush into the decision of the future head of the company.  Set up a deadline for the selection process.  It’s a good idea to keep it between two and six months.

The recruiting partner came up with a list of possible candidates.  Go through the list and see what each candidate brings to the table and what he or she takes off from it.  Once again, it’s the future of the company you are going to entrust someone with so it’s better to take your time.  Many companies feel they have to make a decision quickly so they often make it under pressure thinking it’s the best way to go.  Going through the list of candidates will guarantee that the company made the best informed decision it could.  

There are some aspects that both company and potential CEO should have clear during the interview or interviews that are held.  The company must feel that the future CEO shares the values the company expects out of all the employees.  The CEO should be a perfect fit for the company so that the transition will go along a lot smoother.  The future chief of the company should have a verifiable record of past success in the business.  Additionally, both parties need to have a clear and honest discussion about how each other prefers to work.  This can include things like:

  • Decision making protocol that each one prefers.
  • Limits of everyone’s role.
  • Differences in opinion.  This one is especially important because it will help everyone understand how to deal with each person’s varying point of view without going over anyone’s head.  

Finally, the trust factor.  We like to work with those we feel we can trust.  Any doubts in the person’s integrity or character should be addressed.  

There are no guarantees in the business world.  The people a company chooses can make it or break it.  A no choice is more important than the Chief Executive Officer.

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