The failure rate of executive transitions—up to 40 percent of all leaders fail in their new roles and are replaced or retired in their first eighteen months on the job—is one of the costliest problems any organization can face.
In The Right Leader, executive career advisor Nat Stoddard and Claire Wyckoff present a process to improve the search for top-level executives. While most selection processes evaluate the candidate’s ability and personality in addition to the company’s needs, they don’t go far enough. Stoddard points out that three other areas need to be considered: the candidates energy and character, and third, the organizations culture. The authors suggest ways to evaluate these additional areas. The thoughts they provide offer lessons for all leaders:
Recent studies show that executives usually fail because of bad behaviors stemming largely from bad attitudes toward themselves and others rather than from bad judgments, bad strategies, bad plans, or the lack of necessary skill sets.
A leader’s energy is a very important aspect of who they are; it affects both how they are perceived as well as their ability to endure and preserve against the stress and strain of their responsibilities and the work environment. Their energy level can set the tone for the entire organization.
Leaders who have been successful in one situation (where their values were closely aligned with those of that organization) will not necessarily be successful in a new situation if their values are not sufficiently aligned with those of the new organization.
Cultures are neither “good” not “bad”—they simply are. The strength of a culture is the degree to which there is alignment between the values of the organization and those of the individual members.
The importance of selecting new leaders whose values approximate those of the cultures in which they are embedded is critical because it is the fastest, most assured way to create organizational trust in the leader. Leadership is all about trust. Without trust, leaders become irrelevant functionaries who will fail to accomplish what they have been hired to do—lead."