In our last article on this topic, we focused on the upfront planning work required when you’re hiring a new GC (How to Find and Attract the Right GC Candidate – Part 1 of 2).
In this article we’re going to turn our attention to executing the search in a way that gives you the best odds of success, since the best plans in the world won’t result in success if they’re poorly executed. The first executional dimension to consider is the breadth of your search.
Cast a Wide Net
A 2015 study of corporate board members and C-suite leaders we conducted with leading governance and compliance solutions provider NYSE Governance Services points to the importance of benchmarking internal General Counsel candidates against external talent. Ninety percent of participants in our 2015 study agreed that benchmarking internal candidates against a full field of external talent offered the best assurance that they were ultimately choosing the most qualified and best-fit candidate.
Avoid Geographic Exclusions
While it may be tempting to focus on local talent in markets with abundant quality, such as NYC, LA, or DC, our experience says you may miss great candidates by taking this approach. We recently filled a GC position in NYC with a candidate living in California who had strong NYC ties. This candidate had great relevant experience and a desire to move back East. If we had focused only on Northeast talent this person would have been excluded from the search, and our client would have missed on the best candidate for their situation.
Design Custom Assessment for Role
If you’re following our advice from Part 1 of this article on defining the role, you have what you need to build an assessment that addresses the necessary professional skills and experiences, values, and personality characteristics to identify the best-fit candidate.
Your assessment plan should be rigorous and thoughtful, occurring through a series of interactions and situations that include a broad representation of stakeholders.
Consider that you’re creating judgments around not just their functional capabilities and business aptitude, but also their risk appetite, leadership abilities, and emotional intelligence. And if you’re like most companies with a GC role, you’re realizing that this role continues to grow in influence and importance, so your assessment needs to consider the intended evolution and growth of the position.
Sell the Steak and the Sizzle
Even before you’ve identified your final candidates, your hiring team should consider the importance of selling the opportunity. Consider that for the majority of the GC searches we’ve completed, clients select a passive candidate as their top choice, meaning the best candidates are only in play because of being actively pursued and the positioning of the opportunity attracted them. So the team absolutely needs to create excitement by focusing on the potential of the company, the quality and culture represented by the people, the impact the position will have, and the long-term value the position will bring to the successful GC.
While we’ll always advise our clients to invest in a deliberate and thoughtful succession plan, if you find yourself needing to take action in advance of a completed succession plan, the steps we’ve provided here will be your best path forward.