How to Find Top People

The phrase management shortage is being bandied about liberally in both the business media and companies themselves, and this is causing anxiety about the future. According to a study by BCG, only 14 percent of Germans want to take on a management role in the next few years, and even established executives are considering downshifting or swapping their 80-hour week for early retirement. Dr. Monika Becker, Director of Digital & Technology at HAGER Executive Consulting, explains how and where companies can still find high potentials

by Petra Harms | 12 Sep, 2023
How to Find Top People

Managers seem to be in short supply everywhere. What is important in the search for high potentials?

The accompanying process has become more intensive – on the candidate and company side. The "the grass is always greener on the other side" mentality and frivolity are just as outdated in the face of economic challenges as astronomical salaries and mammoth bonuses. Instead, we now have neorealism, where very careful consideration is given to what change means. As consultants, we have to make a solid case for why change means success. The persuasion process may take several rounds because the vast majority of candidates are not actively looking for a new role.

According to a Deloitte study, 70% of all executives occasionally toy with the idea of quitting. Is it easier to motivate such potential candidates to make a change?

Considering whether or not you are right for your current company and job is a healthy process. However, experience shows that such "annual conversations with oneself" do not always lead to people changing. The advantage is that these candidates start a change process with a clearer picture of their new job and the new company.

It's always about push and pull motivation. On the one hand, you have to know what drives someone out of an old job... On the other hand, you have to define the positive attributes of a new company.

How can you tell if someone may be ready for a new leadership role?

It's always about push and pull motivation. On the one hand, you have to know what drives someone out of an old job – interpersonal relations, different views on strategy or changes in the company's course, for example due to takeovers. On the other hand, you have to define the positive attributes of a new company: appealing tasks and topics to work on, congruent value systems, and company culture. Since we have been networking for 30 years, we know the interests of many decision-makers.

What criteria are particularly important to C-level executives?

Above all, they are looking for room to maneuver. Then there will be a chance for the CEO effect to come into play. This phenomenon suggests CEOs have an overall impact of up to 29 percent on the company's performance.

Do the millennials who are gradually reaching executive levels differ in their mindset and priorities from 50-plus-year-old executives?

Motivation, ambition, and commitment are similar for members of Gen Y who aspire to an executive career and these older generations. However, they show greater sensitivity to issues such as work-life balance, as they may have seen their parents experience burnout. Meaning and ethics play an important role. What really sets millennials apart is their willingness to collaborate. That, in turn, is ideal for the role of intermediary between generations in companies.

Do ideas like shared leadership or freelance executives also play a role here?

This topic will certainly become relevant for many corporations in the next five years. The tasks have become more complex and multi-layered, so it's only helpful if you can take different perspectives into account with a dual leadership.

Are there any new roles, for example in cyber security and circularity, which might pave the way to executive careers for younger people?

Today, there are lots of significant roles that didn't even exist ten years ago. You can't show prospective employers twenty years of expertise as a CAIO, CSO, or CISO, for example. That, in turn, is good for age diversity.

What other factors are essential to succeed at C-level?

Flexibility, an enthusiasm for transformation, strong communication skills, and the ability to make good decisions with limited information are crucial. In addition, of course, there is the technical expertise in their respective environment.

Do lateral entrants with these qualities from outside the industry then have a chance in view of the shortage of managers?

At associate levels, there is greater permeability for historians, political scientists, or post-docs in shortage occupations such as IT, logistics, and supply chain. However, in leadership roles, companies don't like to take risks. What counts here is industry specialist knowledge, a network, and experience in a comparable corporate culture and size.

You see yourself as a mountain guide. Who would you like to accompany you up the mountain?

Our aim is always to create a match from which all parties benefit, teams and company results improve. But if you look at DAX companies, I would like to see even more diversity on the boards and at the levels below.

This article is part of a content cooperation between Fe:maleOneZero (F10) and HAGER Executive Consulting. The company, which specializes in executive search, has repeatedly been named one of the best personnel consultancies in Germany by the magazines WirtschaftsWoche and Focus. HAGER Executive Consulting employs around 110 people and, in addition to its extensive know-how in the field of digitalization, is also considered a specialist in issues relating to diversity and innovation.



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