New or Nurture? This is a hard decision. Do you nurture existing talent because they know your business so well, or do you hire new leadership, which presents an opportunity to diversify your organization and bring new growth to the business?
When going through this internal debate, here are some things to consider:
- Do you have a clear snapshot of the talent that is out there? I feel like I beat a drum with this statement, but networking with key talent and building your bench is an absolute must for all leaders. You have critical people and positions in your company and if one of those leaders left tomorrow, do you have a bench of talent that you can tap into, even if for referrals if the timing isn't right for them to join? If you are grappling with the decision to make a change, the first step is to understand the talent in the market so you can compare your existing leadership to other leaders you could potentially hire. You don’t need to launch a search or post a position to do this work. If you don’t have the bandwidth yourself, put a firm like ours on a small retainer to facilitate introductions.
- How big of a role does institutional knowledge play in your company? In some companies, institutional knowledge, and a deep understanding of the CEO and culture, is a big driver of success. I’ve seen outstanding executives thrive in one company and fail in another. I see some wildly successful businesses have a revolving door of employees while three or four steadfast leaders stay with the company and thrive. If you have a high attrition rate in your company but some key people you trust deeply, institutional knowledge and culture may be one of the most important elements for success. If this is the case, when considering new talent, not only hammer down on skills, experience, leadership, and past success, but also take the time to figure out WHY certain people succeed under you. How do they interact and communicate with you and others? What exactly made them earn yours and others' trust? What do you most appreciate about them? Much of this is behavioral and very difficult to assess through an interview. Examine this closely before bringing in new people and consider using a third-party assessment tool to gain more insight in the final stages of the interview.
- Has your growth stalled? Executives and boards will always ask if it is the marketplace or the leadership that is responsible for a flattening business. This is where data matters more than anything. Benchmarking yourself, your team, and your business against the competition – and reviewing that data often – is critical. The data won’t lie. It may be off a point or two but any executive who is not showing up with the data to support the WHY behind business growth or decline should be questioned.
- Is there enough diversity? This is not about hitting diversity goals and metrics. This is about truly looking around the room and questioning if you have surrounded yourself with people who look and act like you or if you have surrounded yourself with a diverse set of leaders who bring different and new ideas to the plate. Growth depends on a diverse team that pushes boundaries and challenges each other.
- Are you talking too much to yourselves? One of the nice perks of working with the same team for years is how well you know each other and how well you all know the business. There is an ease in this, a rapport that allows you to be comfortable. But business shouldn’t be comfortable. Business is hard, especially when you are continuously pushing for growth. If your team is too comfortable, it may benefit from a new person coming in to challenge ideas and create healthy friction.
There is both upside and downside to staying with your current leadership or hiring new. There is never a clear answer until you make the shift, but the first step is to understand the talent marketplace and explore the potential that a new leader can open up. Change is good and typically if you are questioning it, your gut is correct.