When something new is on the horizon, you feel magic in the air: A euphoric atmosphere of departure meets the delightful joys of anticipation and is enlivened by the hopeful belief: It will be good! Or even better than before! This enchanting precondition is also true for to-be-filled leadership positions, yet most often the task itself is not glamorous at all: time pressure, many voices involved and very high expectations. And the crucial question often is: Can we cope internally or do we need a recruiter from outside?

Executive wanted—now!
High potentials and talented employees are usually promoted in companies and also recognized as such by their own managers. But not always. And if there is no “logical” choice for a vacant position, the challenging process of finding the perfect leadership fit starts. And although the desire to find someone in the own organization is understandable, there are many reasons why it is sometimes necessary or even better to fill a position from outside. From my experience, for example, it can be a matter of the required qualification and professional competence that cannot be found in one’s own company. Or it is a time issue that the vacant position needs to be (re)filled as soon as possible.

Of course, the advantages of filling vacancies from outside vary depending on the goals and criteria of the individual company. For example, it may be deliberately intended to “bring in” new know-how, experience and ideas from the executive to be found. And the issue of acceptance must also be taken into account: a manager who has already led in other companies is often better accepted by employees and other managers than by people from the company’s own ranks.

When outsiders bring in outsiders
Finding a perfect leadership fit is a bit like finding the perfect partner: Very personal and individual. Therefore, going for external recruiting services to find the new one is not often the first choice. Because every in-house recruiter knows the common disadvantages of external recruiting: Higher costs, and above all higher time expenditure. One spends hours to describe to the external recruiter what makes the company tick, which manager exactly is being sought-after and why, how the employees are generally structured, how the team reacts to the situation and so on.
Furthermore you always bear the risk – and cost ! – that the person found is not the right executive for the company after all, and recruiting has to be started all over again.

How external recruiting can still succeed
Ideally, the internal recruiting team can avoid much of this pain if the external recruiter knows the company from the inside, has already made personal contacts with employees and managers (e.g. from training and coaching situations) or has accompanied change processes in the company.

I recently had the pleasure to be part of such a satisfying project. In my role as a trainer and coach, I supported a governance-close corporate to lead 20 teams through an intense one-year change process. The insecurity and anger due to the massive structural change – all departments were restructured – was understandably huge. First of all there was a briefing with the leaders of these new teams, followed by trainings and coaching sessions. That approach offered me a broad knowledge about the teams’ and leaders’ strengths and challenges. After that, my role was extended with Executive Search in order to help fill the open leadership positions. Obviously, I wasn’t only able to be much faster then a “company-stranger” but also able to find the right leadership skills for every team that I got to know during the process.

“So, why wander away when the good is so close?” 😉

Christina Sunder-Plassmann has been working for employees and executives in national and international companies for more than 20 years, in her role as trainer and coach. She also combines this experience and expertise to help companies find the right executive.
Executive search at it’s best!