Mastering the Art of Leadership Hiring – CHRO’s Playbook

A 2021 Gartner survey outlined that only 41% of employees agreed that their senior leadership cared about their best interests. That’s not a good place to be for an organization that wants to attract and retain the best talent

Mastering the Art of Leadership Hiring – CHRO’s Playbook

Mastering the Art of Leadership Hiring – CHRO’s Playbook

A high-performing team requires hiring talent that has the right mindset to grow and evolve with your organization. When we’re talking about hiring leaders, this becomes even more crucial because a wrong hiring decision can have ripple effects that impact profitability, morale, retention, and productivity.

A 2021 Gartner survey outlined that only 41% of employees agreed that their senior leadership cared about their best interests. That’s not a good place to be for an organization that wants to attract and retain the best talent — while also tackling the evolving workplace scenarios with hybrid and remote settings becoming the norm.

So, in this article, we’ll create a playbook for CHROs so that they can streamline leadership hiring and bring competent candidates on board who are not only resilient in the face of change but also culturally aligned. 

The Leadership Hiring Playbook for CHROs

Leadership hiring falls in the purview of the most critical decisions an enterprise makes. The right leaders can drive growth, innovation, and success. On the other hand, the wrong fits can derail a company’s progress and lead to failure.

Narrow Down on the Importance of Hiring Leaders for Specific Roles

The first step is to answer the following questions:

  • What are the key leadership competencies your company is looking for?
  • How does the changing external market impact business opportunities, and how will your new hires be expected to make a difference in that regard?
  • How will the organization’s mission, vision, and values be relevant to their success?
  • How will you approach the cultural alignment between your company and prospective new hires?

This exercise will help you identify the internal metrics, values, and challenges for each role; it will also help you lay a rudimentary foundation for assessing the cultural fit.

Invest in Developing a Structure

A structured hiring process (one that encompasses a meticulously defined set of evaluation guidelines) can be a great way to streamline the process and have a uniform approach for assessing candidates. It also helps avoid bias and judgments.

A structured approach will entail a focus on:

  • Setting up personality, situational, and leadership assessments
  • Formulating guidelines for the interviewers to bring key competencies to the surface during interviews and discussions
  • Developing a cultural fit criteria that encompasses a candidate’s work and lifestyle choices, values, and preferences
  • Creating a detailed scoring system to evaluate the candidates on a structured set of parameters
  • Setting up a feedback and evaluation mechanism that can effectively relay and summarize insights from all the data points

Sourcing and Attracting Leadership Talent

Once you have a leadership hiring strategy in place, you need to start sourcing and attracting the best talent. There are a variety of ways to go about it:

  • Employee referrals: Employee referrals are often the best source of leadership talent. In fact, 30-50% of all hires are employee referrals. Encourage your employees to refer their networks and offer incentives for successful referrals.
  • Executive search firms: Executive search firms can help you identify and recruit top leadership talent. However, they can be expensive and time-consuming to work with, so you’ll need to be cognizant of what exactly you need for the role.
  • Professional networks: From industry events and conferences to professional associations to industry and company-specific social media groups, professional networks can be an excellent place to find leads for prospective new leadership hires.
  • Succession planning: Of course, you can also look into your current team and identify possible candidates for the leadership positions. This is, in fact, the most economical way of sourcing new talent. However, you’ll need to be careful that you don’t damage your existing relationships.

Selecting the Right Fit

Once you have a pool of qualified candidates, you need to start the selection process. When selecting the right candidate for a leadership role, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Skills and experience: Both technical and soft skills will be key to the role’s success. Hence, you’ll want to assess the candidate’s technical prowess, industry experience, level of articulation, leadership aptitude, decision-making process, and more. 
  • Leadership potential: You want your leaders to be able to take on more responsibility in the future. So, it’s essential to factor in the identification of people who have great leadership potential and will be able to grow into much higher positions.
  • Work style and cultural fit: Finding people with the right work style and cultural fit is crucial since they will play a key role in influencing company culture and achieving your goals.

Onboarding and Integration

Once you have selected the right candidate for a leadership role, it’s important to successfully onboard and welcome them to the ecosystem. This process should include:

  • Providing them with a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities
  • Introducing them to the company culture and values
  • Connecting them with key stakeholders in the company
  • Providing them with the resources and support they need to be successful

Some Tips for Effective Leadership Hiring

Here’s a rundown of key strategies you can employ to amplify the efficacy of your leadership hiring process:

Emphasize Internal Progression

Cultivate leadership talent from within by identifying high-potential employees and offering them growth opportunities. How? Conduct mentorship and leadership development programs to nurture existing talent. At the end of the day, internal promotions work to foster loyalty and maintain institutional knowledge.

Conduct Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interviews assess a candidate’s behavior to predict how they can befit the current ecosystem. For this, ask leadership candidates to share specific examples of how they handled challenges, made decisions, and interacted with teams. This approach reveals a candidate’s problem-solving abilities, leadership style, and cultural fit.

Make Sure You Are Ready for the Leadership Change

Despite a robust selection process, sometimes leadership change doesn’t work out. Before you take on that risk, ensure you have a robust succession planning process to fall back on. Or bring in an outside mentor to guide your leadership through that transition.

So, there you have it! Altogether, CHROs need to be intimately familiar with the hiring process and how to optimize it for top-performing leadership. The above playbook will serve as a useful guide for them to drive a leadership-focused hiring process.

Interested in learning about how to increase the chances of success with leadership hiring? Get in touch today!


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