If this sounds like it ought to be the title of a book, it's because it is.
Ever since I had known that Joe McCool (a name that is known to almost anyone who follows the executive recruiting world) was going to write a book, I was wondering how I could say something about it here without it sounding too self-serving inasmuch as Joe is a Senior Contributing Editor with ExecuNet.
My worries were answered, as they often are by Robyn Greenspan our Editor-in-Chief who in our Executive Insider newsletter that was published today featured an interview that she did with Joe. In it, she does a far better job than I ever could in giving readers a 10,000 foot view of just a few of the subjects Joe covers in this first book on the executive search industry published since 1986. Here's what she had to say and Joe's responses:
Would I be featuring this book if the author, Joe McCool, was not a trusted colleague and friend? Absolutely, because executives who recruit will find it fascinating and insightful, and executives who work with recruiters to achieve their own career goals will be enlightened to learn the inside scoop. In this Q&A, Joe and I talk about how executives can use the messages in Deciding Who Leads: How Executive Recruiters Drive, Direct & Disrupt the Global Search for Leadership Talent [Davies-Black, 2008] to their advantage.
Robyn Greenspan (RG): Why should executives read this book? What will they learn about executive recruiting that will help their own career plans?
Joseph Daniel McCool (JDM): I believe it offers today's executives a lot of perspective about how their career plans might eventually marry with the organizational leadership agenda of a new employer. I think executives will come away from the book with a fresh view of the role so-called "executive headhunters" play in management recruiting and also about how the process is still plagued by dysfunction. I hope it also informs their own interactions with executive recruiters and offers some rationale for why they should enter the career courtship process with their eyes wide open and with the utmost discretion, since it usually only proves successful for one or maybe two of the dozens of executives who might be contacted during the course of any search assignment.
RG: What's the most significant change you discovered in the executive recruiting business in the period since John Byrne's book, The Headhunters, was published in 1986?
JDM: Actually, the thing I was most struck by was just how little has changed since Byrne's 1986 assessment of the executive recruiting business and the state of corporate management succession. Perceptions about executive recruiters haven't moved one iota since his book was published, although it is important to point out that the practice of executive search has really been institutionalized across corporate America. The bottom line is that many companies need to start getting smart about management succession and become better consumers of the executive search business. The status quo isn't serving the best interests of employer organizations or of executive job candidates, and Deciding Who Leads really identifies the kind of sophistication employers and executive candidates need to bring to the process.
RG: You make a strong case as to why on-boarding is essential for executive success in a new position. What should a newly hired executive do to get acclimated if their recruiter or new employer does not offer on-boarding assistance?
JDM: I think smart executives are insisting on some form of performance feedback relatively early on in their tenure in a new leadership role, so they'll have some actionable intelligence to plot a course correction if they got off on the wrong foot or failed to make a really positive first impression. The fact is that management churn costs companies a lot of money, and failure in a new role can have dire consequences for any executive from a career advancement point of view. Organizations need lifelong learners in key executive roles, and I believe today's best leaders are those who will be willing to learn from their new environment and learn how their performance is perceived within it.