Five key tips when recruiting for senior management roles

MTA media headhuntersIn the last 12 months a good proportion of my time has been spent recruiting for senior management roles, particularly leaders for B2B information businesses.

Appointing and interviewing candidates for a number of similar roles in a short (ish) period of time has lead to a series of commonalities emerging; a number of key qualities employers are really looking for, those that make good senior management candidates stand out from the field.

Here are my five key things to look for when recruiting for senior management roles:

1. Strategic versus Tactical


Most businesses want a leader who can put together and deliver a long-term strategy, but more nimble companies want leaders who can also roll their sleeves up and actually lead by example.

One recent candidate was recently knocked out of process because his answers suggested that he was ‘a bit too blue skies thinking’ and left too much of the heavy lifting to others in the business. A healthy blend of the two attributes is always appealing to any hiring firm.

2. Product

If you have been following my posts for the past couple of years, this won’t be an unfamiliar topic, but it remains of vital importance. Leaders who can demonstrate success in developing products and delivering commercial growth off the back of them are highly sought after.

One of the key characteristics of a good general manager is the ability to work with the people who use their products to really understand the areas where the product doesn’t work for them or where it lets them down. It’s also vitally important to understand a customer’s ‘pain points’, those parts of their jobs that aren’t appealing, or are difficult, and that could be alleviated by the development of a new product.

3. Commercial Success


It’s no good just developing products that score highly in userbility tests and are easy on the eye. A quality candidate should also be able to point to the commercial success of a product they have launched or developed.

Candidates should always be able to demonstrate how they have led business development functions effectively. Not only should they be able to make this demonstration, they should have numbers to back it up.

4. Growth vs Turnaround


What type of story can the leader tell? Have they driven revenue growth?

Any senior manager should be able to talk us/the client through the steps they have taken to drive growth.

Or have they turned a business around and prepared it for sale?

Again, what were the steps taken to drive profitability, and can they talk us through the steps leading up to the sale?

5. Leadership Style


Is there a good match between the leader’s style and the company culture?

Many companies pay lip service to the the idea of considerate leadership, a boss who buys into the values and culture of the organisation, but how many really do?

Taking an genuine interest in staff, and where they want to take their own careers, clearly shows that a leader cares about their business.

One senior leader recently told us: ‘I don’t know what the trendy term is for wandering about and being interested [in the team members] but it’s all about the people and what you get from them.’