Hiring Greatness: How to Recruit Your Dream  Team  and  Crush the Competition 

In this unprecedented tell-all guide designed to lead employers through the intricacies of a successful executive search, Hiring Greatness empowers readers to navigate the complex terrain of attracting, recruiting, and retaining star executives by imparting insider strategies and tactics previously known by only a handful of America’s best paid, elite head-hunters.

Like magicians unveiling the hidden ‘tricks of the trade,’ Perry and Haluska reveal:

  • How to systematically secure—and retain—the perfect talent for your company
  • How to keep recruiters from poaching your star executives (a good hire is relatively meaningless if they leave the company)
  • Twenty-three questions you must ask a potential headhunter
  • The language that makes your company the most compelling, and how HR lingo can repel the best talent
  • Four critical turnoffs that drive great candidates away from top companies

Written for Executives & Search Committees

Hiring Greatness

Foreword – Carl Albert, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Fairchild Venture Capital Corporation

Successful recruiting starts with a thorough understanding of the goals, strengths, and needs of the organization.

The most effective executive recruiter is a management consultant to the Search Committee, board, or CEO, an adviser to the company, and a recruiter of talented people who fit the specific needs of the company.

It is not likely to be sufficient to conduct a search with no more known to the executive recruiter than the title of the position to be filled. Success is less likely if the assignment to the executive recruiter is no more than “We need a new CEO,” “a COO,” “a CFO,” or other description of a box on an organization chart. A successful executive recruiter understands that his assignment is to help the company understand its needs, not merely to fill a slot described to the recruiter by the board, CEO, or head of a Search Committee. The most valuable executive recruiter does not simply accept the organization chart presented, but learns the strengths and weaknesses of the people in the organization and advises the company on redesign of the chart to fit the talent found at and the goals of the company.

Both the company and executive recruiter must understand the real needs of the organization, the qualities of the right person for the position, the strengths and weaknesses of the officers not being replaced, the quality of the assets of the company, its market position, the short- and long-term goals of the organization, the goals of the board of directors, and need, if any, for a new strategy and vision for success of the organization.

Does the company have a wildly successful strategy but need better execution? Need better financial planning? Need better control of operations? Or does the company need a new vision, new goals, and strategies for achieving those goals? Is the company growing market share or losing share to successful competitors? In each instance, why? Is the company competing in a growing industry with great assets and technology or in a stable or declining industry with little outdated assets or technology?

Too often executive recruiters have considered little more than the title of the open position, experience in the industry in which the company competes, and prior experience in the same job title.

A great executive recruiter starts his or her work by understanding the needs of the company. While the board or CEO might believe the company needs to replace a departing officer with a person whose prior experience is with the same job title as the officer to be replaced, a great executive recruiter will not accept a search assignment without a better understanding of the needs of the company.

A great executive recruiter is, first, a consultant to or partner with the company in determining the needs of the company and then finding the best person to fit those needs. A great executive recruiter will not accept an assignment unless allowed to first fully participate with the board, CEO, or chair of the Search Committee in deciding the real needs of the company. Success is defined not as “filling an open slot” but as determining the needs of the company, correctly defining the job description, and then filling the position with the best person for
the position.

Filling a CEO position presents challenges and opportunities different from other positions. The right CEO can empower his people, create teamwork, and create shareholder value, while a wrong choice of CEO can undermine cooperation between his key people and destroy shareholder value.

The CEO must set strategy and assemble a team of highly qualified people to execute the strategy as a team. Without vision and a well-defined and communicated strategy, the company cannot be expected to flourish. Without a team of talented and qualified people to execute the strategy the company will be hindered in achieving its goals.

A very smart CEO of a small, young company I was funding years ago told me he could do the job of each of his officers and employees better than each could do their own jobs. Sounded impressive. In a short time I realized it was clear his talents were insufficient to get the job done. The company was growing rapidly but losing substantial amounts of money and did not have acceptable financial controls. I took over as CEO with no prior experience in the industry or as a CEO. My first question was, “What is the role of a CEO?”

The role of a CEO, I decided, was like the role of the conductor of an orchestra. The conductor should not be better at playing any particular instrument than the players could play their instruments. To the contrary, one job of the conductor is to make certain he or she has the very best musicians, each outstanding at playing his or her instruments. The role of the conductor is to assemble the finest musicians, to determine the music to be played, based in part on the capability of the players, to make certain the players are working together as a team at the pace determined and communicated by the conductor.

The analogy of the conductor of an orchestra well describes the role of a CEO. The CEO must determine strategy (the music to be played), based on the assets of the company (physical assets and the capability of the players), working together as a team at the pace deter- mined and communicated by the CEO.

The company searching for a new CEO and the executive recruiter must understand the role of a CEO to successfully find the best CEO for the company.

It has been my privilege to work with David Perry in searches for executive positions in three companies, one public and two privately held. I have been a member of the board of each of these companies and chair of the Search Committee in one instance. Working with David Perry was a prime example of the role of a great executive recruiter. He started each project with a thorough analysis of the company, its assets, industry position, qualities of its key people, needs for the executive position to be filled and, based on that analysis, crafted an appropriate job description, plan for execution of the search, and careful screening of potential candidates.

The description in this Foreword of a successful executive recruiter is based on my observing David Perry at work and working with him.