The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

What Really Matters When Hiring a Leader?

Leadership is not just about getting results, but about how a leader gets those results.
John-Salveson

Ask anyone who runs an enterprise of any size what he looks for when hiring a new leader, and you will get plenty of different perspectives, insights, opinions and theories.

You may also hear the opinion that critical executive competencies differ widely from industry to industry. On the surface, it makes sense. It seems logical that the critical skills needed to successfully lead a $200 million private distribution company in the Midwest are different that those needed to be successful in a multibillion-dollar financial services company in London.

Turns out that might not be true.

Our firm recently participated in a global survey that asked executives the world over what they considered the most desirable attributes for a senior executive in their organization. We heard from 1,270 business leaders around the globe. What we found surprised us.

First, there were very few differences in responses from different industry sectors. Maybe more surprisingly, there was almost no correlation between desired attributes and the part of the world in which the respondent worked.

It turns out that by a margin of more than 2:1, the ability to motivate and inspire people is considered the single most important attribute for a senior executive. After motivational ability, the senior executive traits most valued by organizations were: strong ability to manage change, ability to identify and develop talent, and innovative thinking.

So many companies evaluate their internal talent by the results they achieve – operational excellence, success in driving new channel strategies, getting inventory under control. But these abilities, which we called “Consistent High Performance,” came in fifth – and only made the top three half as frequently as motivational ability.

So what does this tell us? Maybe it reinforces the fact that leadership is not just about getting results, but about how a leader gets those results – and whether he can get results through other people. This has important implications related to how companies develop their people. They need to balance building those “hard” skills with the “soft” skills.

The two attributes that were at the end of the list were also interesting, particularly in today’s increasingly global technology-driven world. Respondents said the least important attribute for a senior leader was digital and online experience and the ability to speak more than one language.

Maybe when you are the boss, the best idea is to be sure you have people in your organization with those skills, so you can pay attention to building the relationships and trust needed to motivate and inspire people.

About the Author
Leave a Reply

Leave a Comment

Sign Up for the MDM Update Newsletter

The MDM update newsletter is your best source for news and trends in the wholesale distribution industry.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to MDM’s Privacy Policy.

2

articles left

Want more Premium content from MDM?

Subscribe today and get:

  • New issues twice each month
  • Unlimited access to mdm.com, including 10+ years of archived data
  • Current trends analysis, market data and economic updates
  • Discounts on select store products and events

0

articles left

This is your last free article

Subscribe to MDM Premium today and get:

  • Unlimited access to MDM.com
  • 1 year digital subscription, with new issues twice a month
  • Trends analysis, market data and quarterly economic updates
  • Deals on select store products and events

1

article
left

You have one free article remaining

Subscribe to MDM Premium to get unlimited access. Your subscription includes:

  • Two new issues a month
  • Access to 10+ years of archived data on mdm.com
  • Quarterly economic updates, trends analysis and market data
  • Store and event discounts

To continue reading, you must be an MDM Premium subscriber.